Lunala GX Deck Profile



INTRODUCTION


Do you miss insanely bulky cards that are offensive as well? Do you want a concept capable of splashing in a wide variety of specialty niche attackers? Best of all, do you want tons of Healing on top of free prizes?

If so, then you may strongly consider playing Lunala GX the next chance you get!

In today’s deck profile, we’ll be looking at a Standard format list for Lunala GX. We’ll consider the general concept, the finer options, and the matchups. Of course we’ll also consider Lunala’s uncertain, but still very real place in the new metagame.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS


1. Deck List
1.1 Deck Demonstration
2. Core Strategy
3. List Choices
4. Playing Options
5. Matchups

 

1. DECK LIST



Pokémon (16):

3 Cosmog SM 64
1 Cosmoem SM 65
3 Lunala GX SM 141
4 Wobbuffet GEN RC11
2 Hoopa STS 51
1 Hoopa EX AOR 89
1 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
1 Lugia-EX AOR 68

Trainers (35):

4 Trainers' Mail ROS 92
1 Skyla BKP 122
4 Rare Candy SM 129
1 Super Rod BKT 149
2 Lysandre AOR 78
4 Professor Sycamore BKP 107
2 Teammates PRC 141
3 N FAC 105
3 Float Stone BKT 137
4 Ultra Ball FAC 113
3 Max Potion BKP 103
4 VS Seeker PHF 109

Energy (9):

9 Psychic Energy


1.1 Deck Demonstration:


2. Core Strategy

Lunala GX’s Psychic Transfer lets you move Energy, deny Prizes, and heal damaged Pokémon with no downside.

3. List Choices

(Pokémon)


3-1-3 Lunala GX: In a format with such monstrously fast Basic attackers, Lunala is made or broken on how consistent every aspect of getting out your Stage Two can be. The starting point is of course with the line you dedicate, and here I’ve decided on a 3-1-3 for very important reasons…

3 Cosmog: Just enough to keep from being prized too often, but not too much to clog up your deck. In an average game, benching two by the first turn shouldn’t be too difficult.


1 Cosmoem
: This is a horrible card in its own right, but it’s necessary for two reasons. First, for all the situations where you can’t get out a turn two Lunala via Rare Candy (more on that in a moment), you still want a smooth transition in case you fail to draw into Rare Candy on the third turn. Cosmoem does that for us, hedging our line to set up at the latest on Turn Three (as the Poke-Gods intended).


3 Lunala GX
: The prizing logic is the same here as with Cosmog. But while the same urgency doesn’t exist to get two out into play immediately, you’ll still want two out eventually. This lets you juggle two Lunala as a viable offensive tactic, in spite of Moongeist Beam being a horrible attack with an equally horrible cost.

…And then there’s Lunar Fall GX, which is incredible. But more on that later.


4 Wobbuffet: Setting up a Stage Two line in a turbo format is tough, which is why we want to slow everyone down to our snail’s pace. Wobuffet’s attack also permits for the perfect one-two punch when combined with Lunala’s hideously inefficient first attack.

2 Hoopa STS: Non-EX Hoopa, a.k.a. “Ugly Muppet Baby, Model Violet” is valuable both for setting up future Knock Outs for your other attackers, as well as slugging through Shaymins or non-EX threats with Hyperspace Punch. Although it is decent versus Gyarados AOR, as well as its Steam Siege nemesis, Ugly Muppet Baby Red (Volcanion), Hoopa has been very underwhelming in testing, and is looking like it will see at least one copy cut. Most likely in favor of…


1 Lugia EX AOR
: Lugia EX AOR is a star attacker, taking full advantage of Lunala GX’s Psychic Transfer for big, oftentimes unanswered Damage. Deep Hurricane is also my deck’s sole answer to counter stadiums, and is a huge Damage source in its own right.


1 Hoopa EX AOR
: Unlike the vast majority of lists in Standard or Expanded, I’m actually running Hoopa EX for its own sake and less for Scoundrel Ring.  While Scoundrel Ring is indeed an excellent Ability, I'm using Hoopa EX as a surprise sniper to clean up for our mutant muppet baby pals, who in many instances would have dealt tiny but decisive amounts of Damage to, say, Shaymin EX's. This, like the count on Hoopa, is not quite as useful in practice as I would have liked, and so is subject to getting cut.


1 Shaymin EX ROS: Shaymin EX is still the best this game has in terms of Pokémon-based draw support. Although we’re hiding behind a wall of Wobbuffet, which shuts off your own non-Psychic based Abilities such as Set Up, I still run a single copy because when looping with Lunala GX or other attackers, you’ll oftentimes need some extra draw power to keep you afloat.

(Trainers)

4 Trainers’ Mail / 1 Skyla / 4 Rare Candy: Greninja and Vileplume have been the solely prominent Stage Two Pokémon in this Standard format, but you can’t build the vast majority of Stage Two decks like Greninja or Vileplume: You don’t have Frogadier’s Water Duplicates to skip a Stage, and you don’t have Forest of Giant Plants to get it all out by turn One.

So what’s the key principle to getting out a Stage Two line consistently? Simple:


RUN ENOUGH STUFF TO GET IT OUT!!!


I run the 3-1-3 line I do in order to get out Lunala GX consistently, and I run these nine cards to do the same. The game you’ll be playing is two-fold: get (and keep) Cosmog on the Bench; and then Rare Candy Cosmog into a Lunala GX by turn two. That’s also why I run a maximum count on Rare Candy, as well as five cards capable of getting me Rare Candy on second blush. The single copy of Skyla is particularly useful in smoothing over the difficulties you may otherwise encounter when trying to get Ultra Ball at the same time as Rare Candy.


Over time, you and I may decide that four Rare Candy is inefficient. Okay, that’s fine, but at this point in testing a new deck, the things you should do always come back to consistency! Four Rare Candy – and its support Trainers – is the key to doing that in a Stage Two deck.

2 Teammates: I run two Teammates on top of the above not just as the occasional way to fetch a turn Two Lunala, but as a great mid-game crutch to fetch either pieces of a second Lunala GX line, Max Potions and Energy, or a combination of the above. This is a set up deck, and while your perfect board begins with a single Lunala GX, it ends with multiple Lunala GX and lots of energy. Teammates helps move that along efficiently.

 

3 Max Potion: Max Potion means maximum healing in exchange for discarding Energy, which is incredible in a deck that moves Energy. I run three because in combination with the rest of the deck, it’s a high enough count to guarantee that I enjoy the benefit of healing, but not disrupt the rest of the deck.

3 Float Stone (and 0 Fighting Fury Belt!): It may seem strange that I don’t run Fighting Fury Belt (+40 HP) in a deck whose main objective is to tank and heal, but that is in part because I want space for lots of Float Stones. Several Float Stone copies means I can transition seamlessly from a Wobbuffet into a turn three attacker. It also means I can quickly move into a Wobbuffet turn one in case I didn’t start with it. One change I am strongly considering is to remove a single copy of both Max Potion and Float Stone to afford the space for Fighting Fury Belt.

 

(Energy)

9 Psychic: This is the minimum energy count I’ve allowed to make the deck work. Except in the rare instance where I need to have enough Energy for a big Aero Ball, I’ve never lacked for energy, and haven’t wanted to have more. That’s probably because of the strange Energy efficiency in this deck: Because you are constantly moving Psychic Energy, they go a longer way here.

0 Rainbow!  Lastly, I currently run zero Rainbow, or any differently-typed Attackers for that matter. This build is still in its beta stage, and I feel a format which runs so much Special Energy hate, Rainbow-typed tactics would be a dangerous metagame choice for now.

 

4. Playing Options

When to Lunar Fall with Lunala GX: I’m a firm believer that the more rigid a philosophy you have with when to execute this attack, the more games you’ll lose.

First off, remember that Lunar Fall GX is a conditional attack – that is, because it can only target non-GX Basic Pokémon, there’s no guarantee you can use it in the late game against a good player with the right deck. Your top target will without a doubt be a benched Shaymin EX in order to draw the last two Prizes you need to win the game, but the opponent might have already Sky Returned their Shaymin EX, returning it to the hand in anticipation of your impending, game-finishing Attack.

Second, the value in eliminating a big Attacker is much higher in the early game than in the late game, but it’s all very matchup-dependent. In Volcanion decks, for instance, the greatest threat to your Lunala is a Volcanion EX that can somehow overcome its 130 base Damage to OHKO a Lunala. The only way to do that is to get four Volcanion EX into play all at once, but with Lunar Fall GX threatening a Knock Out against those Volcanion EX at any time, how will they get up to that magic 250 HP count?

 When to Go Aggro: In this deck, there are aggressive games and conservative games. In the aggressive games, you wall behind Wobbuffet until you have three Energy in play for a good attack; in conservative games, you continue building your Energy and Attackers until a Wobbuffet gets Knocked Out, potentially triggering Teammates for even more resources and Attackers.

I’ve found that in a surprising number of games, you actually want to play aggressively. That’s because a Lunala GX will very rarely get Knocked Out with one hit after you start attacking, and so can transition seamlessly from a turn three Lunar Fall GX into a turn four Moongeist Beam. Also, in some matchups such as turbo Darkrai EX, you will really want to take the initiative before their board becomes too powerful to control.

 Best Practices with Energy Placement: Lunala GX may have its own unique bells and whistles, but Energy transfer decks are hardly new. Since Lunala GX has no Energy acceleration of its own without also including Max Elixir, you will generally want to spread out all of your extra Energy in places where your Opponent won’t or can’t target. That’s partially why getting a second Lunala GX into play is so helpful, and why I’m considering including Fighting Fury Belt in future versions of this deck.

Anticipating Hex Maniac: A well-timed Hex Maniac can ruin many of our plans discussed above, and punish a player for being aggressive. But that doesn’t devalue the benefits of taking any of the suggestions discussed, so rather than paralyze yourself with fear of losing your Abilities, just ask yourself two questions –

1. “What are the chances my opponent runs Hex Maniac?”
2. “If I for some reason lost access to Psychic Transfer next turn, would I be okay?

Engage yourself; actively consider the risk of your plays, as you would in any other scenario. But your interactions with Ability denial are just as important as your one-sided decisions with Psychic Transfer.

 Dealing with the Dank Jank Duo: Garbodor BKP and Alolan Muk SUM shut off all or some of your Abilities. These two gross, but cool and useful Psychic Types, a.k.a. the Jank Dank Duo, are a thorn on your side for different reasons.

Garbodor shuts off All Abilities, a game-killer for you if you’re not prepared. The current list also doesn’t run many efficient Psychic answers to kill Garbodor, so you’ll either need to find a new tech attacker, snipe Garbodor with Hoopa EX’s Hyperspace Fury, or make some clever bench-attacking plays with Ugly Muppet Baby Hoopa. Unfortunately you can’t charge into a Garbodor with Lunala GX itself when against Yveltal, because then you’ll face the ugly reality of Darkness Weakness when Yveltal EX Evil Balls you for a Knock Out.

Alolan Muk is a bit different. Rather than shut off your entire deck, it will shut off your Basic Abilities…which includes your Wobbuffet army That has some weird implications, but the biggest is that Power of Alchemy permits your Opponent to start using Evolved Pokémon’s Abilities again. Stacked Abilities therefore can get very strange, such as in the below example --

--Villeplume AOR shuts off your Items, BUT…
--Wobbuffet GEN shuts off your Opponent’s Vileplume, thereby triggering your Items again. BUT…
--Alolan Muk SUM shuts off your Wobbuffet, thereby reactivating the Item denial.

To be fair, situations like this will be very rare. But if you’re considering using this deck in the lead-up to Regionals, know that the concept of Vileplume with Alolan Muk has a lot of hype.

The normal answer to this issue is pretty simple, which is to not bother with Alolan Muk at all, and have faith in the construction of your list. Remember that we rely much less on the all-powerful Basic Pokémon Draw cards like Shaymin EX, so in most matchups we’ll just get carried by our own consistency. For the sole issue of Vileplume though, remember that both Vileplume and Alolan Muk have high Retreat costs, meaning you can Lysandre and kill one of them relatively slowly without consequence.

 5. Matchups

Although including percentage calculations is a traditional thing to do in matchup discussions, I don’t think it’s as helpful to the average player as a general term. There also comes to be a point when assigning a percentage has negative implications, such as an unrealistic probability. It is still a useful shorthand in my day-to-day talk with testing partners, so I wouldn’t discourage it for you either. However, I’ll only call matchups Very Favorable, Favorable, Even, Unfavorable, and Very Unfavorable.


Yveltal/Garbodor: Unfavorable. This is perhaps your worst matchup, and in many people’s minds will disqualify it as a choice for the first Regional of the season. Garbodor shuts you down; Yveltal EX can oftentimes OHKO a Lunala GX with only two Energy, and it’s hard to keep up the pace in the face of either of those! Lugia EX may be your saving grace against both, and your Wobbuffets can work wonders.

Turbo Darkrai: Unfavorable. Turbo Darkrai is perhaps far less unfavorable than Yveltal EX, especially if they don’t run a single copy of Yveltal EX to deal with Lunala GX. However, all Darkrai EX needs to reach Lunala GX’s max HP is half its Darkness Energy in play, which doesn’t take all that long However, Wobbuffet does an incredible job of grinding their otherwise endless onslaught to a halt. It also helps tremendously that Lunar Fall GX doesn’t trigger EXP. Share, which means that when you use your GX attack to KO a Darkrai…That energy is going away for good!

 

So we have two tough matchups against two historically popular decks – one on the downturn but historically known to make comebacks; and the other on the rise. Why on Earth, then, would Lunala GX be worth considering in the short term?

I’ll start by saying that this deck profile isn’t supposed to argue the deck’s playability in the instant moment, but give you a strong starting point with the deck in all aspects when you’re ready to start playing it. However, there can and will be realistic upcoming metagame scenarios where Dark is pushed out in favor of Volcanion and the fast Grass decks it presumably beats.


 “Various Grass decks”: Favorable. This is a broad category which will eventually deserve to be split into its various decks, but when I say this I think of the combined might of Vespiquen and/or Vileplume, as well as new Grass cards like Decidueye GX, Tsareena, and Lurantis GX. All of these Grass decks that depend heavily on Abilities are locked by Wobbuffet, and they all struggle to reach Lunala GX’s dreaded 250 HP mark.


Volcanion: Favorable. With the onslaught of Grass comes a return to players of Volcanion, which is a great format dynamic for Lunala to come in and surprise. As discussed above, Volcanion struggles really, really hard to reach that magic 250 HP mark as well, and it’s highly unlikely Volcanion will be making the list choices that would make quadruple Steam Up a reality. This ultimately results in being able to wall a very strong deck.

M Rayquaza: Favorable. Shutting off Abilities against a very Ability-driven deck is highly advantageous, but the most absurd aspect of this matchup is that M Rayquaza can’t OHKO Lunala GX! Well, not without aid of some damage addition card, but that’s a hard thing to include in an otherwise tight list. Unlike other games, the tech Basics mostly take a back seat to Lunala GX, which has a lot of openings to snipe Shaymin EX’s and perhaps even Lunar Fall GX a Rayquaza EX.

M Mewtwo/Garbodor: Even. Despite Garbodor shutting down your Abilities, Weakness goes a long way for you. Hoopa EX and the Ugly Muppet Babies are the leaders in this aspect, and Lugia EX can from time to time result in a surprising damage play. However, I wouldn’t count out M Mewtwo EX’s Ability to do absurd amounts of damage against what’s clearly a very hoggish deck.

M Gardevoir: ”Even.” This is the one matchup where I’m least convinced in my assessment, but all early indicates suggest it’s even. On one hand, Wobbuffet is especially crippling to this deck as it relies as much if not more on Abilities than M Rayquaza. On the other hand, a good M Gardevoir player will rarely leave openings for Lunar Fall GX, effectively making the attack worthless. This is actually a rare instance where Moongeist Beam’s secondary effect, the blocking of healing on the Defending Pokémon, to be incredibly useful, as it blocks their Fairy Drops.

Greninja: Unfavorable. I don’t like our chances against a deck that perpetually locks our Abilities, is above our normal Damage caps, outpaces our attackers, and rarely if ever offers up a viable target for Lunar Fall GX. As far as techs go, a Professor Kukui could be useful in letting Lunala reach Greninja’s 130 HP, or Lugia EX to reach Greninja BREAK’s 170 HP. Pokémon Ranger could also be incredible in fixing most of these problems; however, that would be yet another tech that could possibly drag down consistency. It’s also a big question of whether we want to bother with even beating this deck when there are so many good Grass options now!

 CONCLUSION

Lunala GX is one of the most underrated cards out of the new set. It is not only with one of the highest HP Pokémon in the game, but is a great support card
with an incredible, game-breaking GX attack. The skill cap here is quite high, and the matchups are so-so. Nevertheless, it’s an enjoyable deck with lots of future potential, and could even make a showing next week in the chaos that is Anaheim.