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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Lucario  

- Plasma Storm

Date Reviewed:
March 6, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 2.75
Limited: 2.75

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Combos With:

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

Lucario (Plasma Storm) 

One of the things I liked about the Black and White 2 games was that you could catch a Riolu (and therefore get a Lucario) really early in the game. Made a nice change to have fast access to a really good Pokémon at that stage, instead of having to fight your way through the first few Gyms with Lillipup and Patrat. This is the TCG, however, and the question is: would you want this Lucario on your team in the card game? Let’s take a look and find out. 

Lucario is a Stage 1 Fighting Type with a scary low 100 HP, making him an easy KO for . . . just about any playable EX you care to name (especially if Hypnotoxic Laser is involved). There’s a bit less Mewtwo-EX around these days, so Psychic Weakness is maybe not the mark of unplayability that it used to be . . . still, with that HP, it hardly matters. I very much dislike the Retreat cost of two: awkward to pay, and you don’t necessarily want to spend a Switch on this guy.

The Dual Armour Ability can be used to give Lucario some protection though. This states that, if Lucario has a Metal Energy attached, he becomes a dual Type Metal and Fighting Pokémon. We all know what that means: you can give him damage immunity from EX attackers using Klinklang PLS. Although Lucario does not need Metal Energy for its attack, Fighting and Metal do appear on the same Blend Energy, so it shouldn’t mess things up too much if you decided to run him. 

But is there any reason to? Well, it would go some way towards diversifying Weakness I guess. Except that the non-EX Fire Pokémon that are used to counter Plasma Klinklang (Victini NVI 15, Moltres NEX) hit hard enough to OHKO Lucario regardless. He also gives another way of exploiting Weakness, most notably against Darkrai-EX. Lucario is able to do this because his attack is . . . not bad. For one Fighting and two Colourless, Hurricane Kick does 60 damage (mediocre) but then adds 30 more for each Prize card your opponent has taken. This puts Darkrai-EX (or Regigigas-EX for that matter) in OHKO range as soon as the opponent takes a Prize, and if they take four, Lucario can hit for the magic 180 that KO’s any EX Pokémon (barring Eviolite, Giant Cape, or Resistance). In fact, Lucario can be used as a Stage 1 version of Shaymin-EX (which has a very similar attack): play N to limit your opponent’s late game options, then use Lucario to KO their attacker, leaving them without the resources to reply. Unfortunately, Riolu gets no protection from Klinklang and will be a rather obvious target as you set up this play. 

So, is it worth running Lucario in a Plasma Klinklang deck? I don’t think he stands much of a chance elsewhere simply through being a low HP Stage 1, and even with the support of Plasma Steel, I seriously question whether he is worth the deckspace. If you have invulnerability from EX Pokémon, it doesn’t matter if you take two turns to KO your opponent’s EXs with Cobalion, and the three Energy attack cost means that your opponent will be able to anticipate any threat Lucario poses to their Fire techs. Lucario isn’t a bad card by any means, in fact I think it’s the best Stage 1 we have seen for a while, I just don’t think he adds quite enough to an already strong deck to be a very wise inclusion. 

Rating

Modified: 2.75 (possible off-beat tech in PlasmaKlang)

Limited: 2.75 (a bit slow here)

Otaku

If you are reading this, I forgot to write an introduction.

 

Stats

 

Type: Lucario is a Fighting-Type; like almost all Types in the TCG right now, there is no overt, direct support.  There isn’t as much incidental support either, though due to the abundance of Fighting Weakness on heavily played cards and disparity between the potency of Weakness versus Resistance, it is a strong offensive Type despite Resistance on some high profile attackers.  It is still bittersweet for me, because this is a Fighting/Steel-Type Pokémon in the video games.  As we will see this has been factored into the card, but in a way you are paying for something that should have been “free”.

 

Stage: As a Stage 1, Lucario is easier to get into play than Stage 2 Pokémon, but even Stage 1 Pokémon are slow compared to the Basic Pokémon that dominate the format.  Many traits about this card that would be adequate for a Basic Pokémon just won’t cut it for a Stage 1.

 

Hit Points: 100 HP is not a guaranteed OHKO early game, but most decks can hit it pretty easily once set-up; if not directly, then once Hypnotoxic Laser (optionally with Virbank City Gym) is factored in.  As a Stage 1 Pokémon Lucario hits the field no sooner than the overall third turn of the game; even if the player using it goes first, the most aggressive decks could OHKO it even then!  At this point, it might be better if Lucario had 10 less HP so that it was a legal Level Ball target.

 

Lucario in the video games have noticeably below average Base Stats for HP, Defense, and Special Defense stats for fully Evolved Pokémon; the low HP is somewhat justified, but made much worse than it should be by the state of the game.

 

Weakness: Psychic-Type Weakness is not good to have; Mewtwo EX (BW: Next Destinies 54/99, 98/99; BW Promo BW45) usage seems to finally have dropped to the point where not every deck is running it, but it is still a definite presence in the format.  With the HP, the Weakness matters less to begin with as most Pokémon are going to score that OHKO regardless.  What makes it extra annoying is that this card actually shouldn’t be Psychic Weak at all, given how Lucario in the video game function.

 

In the video games, Lucario are only Weak to Fighting, Ground, and Fire.  Fighting and Ground might justify Fighting-Type Weakness, which is about as bad as Psychic-Type Weakness, but the third video game Type that goes into the TCG Fighting-Type is Rock, which Lucario in the video games resist.  Fire-Type Weakness is the only one that seems consistent with the video games; there Lucario takes normal damage from Psychic Type attacks and takes half damage from Ghost-Type and no damage from Poison-Type moves (the remaining two components of the TCG Psychic-Type).  Fire is also one of the lesser used Types right now as well.

 

Resistance: Lucario has no Resistance.  The Resistance mechanic is horribly ineffective compared to the Weakness mechanic, and for reasons unknown (I would guess in the name of “simplicity”) Resistance is missing from most Pokémon, so in a sense Lucario is just missing out on a small, potential advantage.  At this point in the review, seems like it could use it, but there is a much better reason for be annoyed at this.

 

As a Fighting/Steel-Type hybrid, this card takes less than the normal amount of damage from 10 of the 17 video game Types!  It is Immune (damage is multiple by zero) from Poison-Type attacks there.  Rock-, Bug-, and Dark-Type moves all hit for only a quarter of their normal damage.  Normal-, Ghost-, Steel-, Grass-, Ice-, and Dragon-Type moves will only strike for half damage.  That is a lot to ignore, especially as one of the big points of Steel-Types (and their hybrids) is how many forms of Resistance they sport.

 

Converting all those into their TCG counterparts and ignoring any where all components of a TCG Type aren’t included, Lucario should still be Resistant to Darkness-, Dragon-, Grass-, or Metal-Type attacks.  Darkness-Type Resistance would have been almost perfect; its video-game counterpart converts directly and is the highest form of Resistance to do so, and both Fighting-Types and Steel-Type Pokémon in the video games are known for their Resistance to Dark-Types.

 

Retreat: A Retreat score of two is normally the functional average; low enough that in a competent deck Lucario would often have the Energy attached to pay for it, could spare the Energy without crippling its offense, but high enough you only would want to in an emergency.  However the card pool and nature of the format makes this actually the worst score to have.

 

Right now, it is imperative that Pokémon have an easy, efficient method of getting out of the Active slot; Hypnotoxic Laser (especially with Virbank City Gym) will require you Bench a Pokémon to avoid more damage (it is rarely worth running a card to just “cure” the Special Condition).  The proven options for doing this that Lucario can tap are going to either zero out its Retreat cost or bypass manually retreating entirely.

 

What is more is that if it required an additional Energy to Retreat, it might have justified the designers offsetting that with a benefit to the card elsewhere, and would have made it a legal Heavy Ball target.  This may seem like nitpicking, but it will come back to bite this card when we get to Usage.  Lucario in the video games do have a Speed Base Stat that is above average, so realistically a free or single Energy Retreat would have been appropriate.

 

Effects

 

Ability: Dual Armor allows Lucario to count as both a Metal-Type and a Fighting-Type Pokémon at the same time, provided it has a source of (M) Energy attached to it.  At first glance I was thrilled with this because it means the Pokémon’s dual-Type heritage is being respected, but then I realized the opposite was true; an inherent trait of the video games was only being represented at the cost of the Ability “slot” on the card and it wasn’t even always one but something that had to be triggered!

 

Metal Resistance doesn’t naturally exist in Modified anymore, so being able to avoid counting as a Metal-Type will seldom if ever benefit Lucario.  If the alternative was going to be this card without any Ability or without a second attack, yes this is an improvement, but that would be terrible design work like we often tolerate in Evolving Pokémon.

 

Attack: Hurricane Kick has a great name… well, I am a fan of the Street Fighter series though I wouldn’t be surprised if the attack name has some other, older origin or has been re-used elsewhere.  For (FCC) you do only 60 points of damage, but you score an extra 30 points of damage for each Prize your opponent has taken.  A single Prize gives you an acceptable 90 points of damage, enough to OHKO unprotected Fighting Weak Pokémon and 2HKO anything unprotected and lacking an HP boost that commonly sees play.

 

At two Prizes taken, the 120 points of damage done means very, very few Pokémon can survive two hits without flat out preventing damage taken or healing up in between attacks.  At three Prizes taken, almost any Stage 2 that is currently Modified legal is OHKOed by the 150 points of damage done.  At four Prizes taken, Hurricane Kick hits for 180 points of damage: few Pokémon can survive that even once.  Lastly, once your opponent has taken five Prizes, while you have almost lost Lucario serves up a massive 210 points of damage; the only competitive cards that can survive that are relying on “protective” effects that shut damage off entirely.

 

The Energy cost is mostly good; obviously being less expensive would make it “better” but the Colorless Energy requirements are easy to meet with most acceleration (including Double Colorless Energy) and a single (F) requirement is also easy to meet.

 

Synergy: As Blend Energy WLFM can power the single (F) Energy requirement of the attack and trigger Dual Armor, there is definite synergy between the attacks.  Metal Weakness isn’t huge, but it is out there and hitting for double damage even a little more often is beneficial.  If you need to avoid Special Energy cards or just want fall back options, basic Metal Energy can easily fill the Colorless Energy requirements of the attack.

 

Usage

 

Card Family: There are four versions of Riolu and two other versions of Lucario available in Modified.  All currently legal versions of Riolu and Lucario are Fighting-Type Pokémon with Psychic Weakness and no Resistance.  All Riolu are also Basic Pokémon with single Energy Retreat scores and two attacks; the latter is a rare amount effort on the designers’ parts, and much appreciated.  The Retreat cost is common but handy as well.  Both other Lucario are Stage 1 Pokémon with solid single Energy Retreat scores.

 

Riolu (BW: Next Destinies 63/99) sports 70 HP and can do 10 for (C) or for (FC) hit for 10 plus another 20 points if you flip “heads”.  Riolu (BW Promo BW33) has just 60 HP, and for (C) can Bench itself while for (FC) it does a flat 30.  Riolu (BW: Plasma Storm 75/135) has 60 HP and requires (C) to hit for 10 and (FC) to hit for 20; no additional effects.  Its set-mate Riolu (BW: Plasma Storm 76/135) enjoys 70 HP and for (CC) hits for 20 while (FCC) allows it to hit for 40 and ignore Resistance.

 

BW Promo BW33 and its self-Benching attack improves its odds of survival, but only if you have something else you want to promote in its stead.  Neither 60 nor 70 HP is going to survive a lot of attacks, but even a little bit bigger is better, so I favor BW: Plasma Storm 76/135 for having 70 HP and its slightly better attacks (Fighting Weakness is common enough you might actually benefit from attacking for damage first/second turn).

 

Lucario (BW: Next Destinies 64/99) has 100 HP, an Ability, and an attack.  The Ability causes an attacking Pokémon to have two damage counters placed on it, even if Lucario is KOed.  This is handy but not enough to get the card played.  Its attack requires (FF) and hits for 50 to the Defending Pokémon and 20 to one of the opponent’s Benched Pokémon; a total of 70 for two Energy isn’t bad, but (FF) isn’t easy to pay for with Energy acceleration so overall, this version falls flat.

 

Lucario (BW: Plasma Storm 77/135) has only 90 HP, making it a legal Level Ball target but a slightly easier OHKO.  It has vanilla attacks that just aren’t strong enough: (FC) for 30 or (FCC) for 70.  This means that neither version makes a good partner for today’s card.

 

Combos: The biggest combo I can see for this card is with Klinklang (BW: Plasma Storm 90/135); the paltry HP of Lucario can last when Dual Armor makes it a Metal-Type so that Plasma Steel blocks the damage from all Pokémon-EX.  This would allow Plasma Steel decks to exploit abundant Fighting Weakness and possess a potential comeback hitter.  Unfortunately for Lucario the format is heavy with Hypnotoxic Laser, it is small enough that non-Pokémon-EX attackers can still OHKO it, space is tight in Plasma Steel decks, and Riolu is a pure Fighting-Type so it never gets the same protection.

 

As stated, it can make good use of Double Colorless Energy, so I suppose if a Plasma Steel deck was using it, this could make Lucario more tempting.  As you want to give up some Prizes and distract the opponent from Pokémon that are more important long term, some might even consider running something like Victini EX (BW: Plasma Storm 18/135, 131/135) to try an accelerate some basic Energy to Riolu/Lucario while taking a dive and ensuring Hurricane Kick opens at 120 points of damage.  Unfortunately that is easier said than done.  Regardless, N does make a nice, near effortless combo as you can shrink your opponent’s hand before laying into them with a powerful Hurricane Kick.

 

Unlimited: Notice how none of the combos I listed were for Unlimited.  This card just doesn’t fit here; it doesn’t enhance first-turn-win strategies, and even if you decide to play a different strategy, hitting Metal-Type Weakness isn’t usually that important, other Fighting-Types are better at exploiting Fighting-Weakness and all the crazy combos you might use to back up Lucario are exceeded by the combos that tear it down.

 

Modified: There is a slim chance that an otherwise solid Plasma Steel deck that can somehow squeeze in a 1-1 line of Riolu/Lucario (meaning everything else the two want needs to already be in the deck, like Blend Energy WLFM) to exploit Fighting Weakness and play comeback hitter.  Thanks to other counters for Plasma Steel already OHKOing it and the Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym combo, even if Riolu survives the turn you’ll get one shot, maybe two.

 

I built some test builds based on some ideas I had heard, and except as a 1-1 line in an already compatible Plasma Steel deck, there just wasn’t the room for Lucario, Klinklang [Plasma], and something to deal with Poison.

 

Limited: Riolu makes for a solid “filler” Pokémon in Limited, which means Lucario itself is a bonus provided you can afford to run a few Fighting Energy to pay for Hurricane Kick.  Triggering Dual Armor is optional; it requires the deck also run some Metal Energy and that is a much greater strain, but if you do this set actually has multiple lines with Metal Weakness.  Hurricane Kick won’t hit be able to hit for as much damage (only four Prizes to begin with in Limited), but average HP scores are lower so it will likely be as effective or more so regardless.

 

Ratings

 

Unlimited: 1/5

 

Modified: 2/5

 

Limited: 4/5

 

 

Summary

Lucario looks promising at a glance, but a closer look reveals that it not only is ill-suited for the current format but it really seems to ignore what the Pokémon is about in the video games.  “Re-inventing” a Pokémon is fine when it makes it better, but not when it makes it worse.

 

I didn’t intend to use this to rant about the need for a standard dual-Type mechanic, but according to Bulbapedia the TCG first came out in Japan in 1996, meaning it either has hit or later this year will hit its 17th anniversary, and if that release date is wrong the full fledged debut of the game in North America was in 1999, so 13 years going on 14.

 

Dual-Types are iconic in the video games and integrated into the game mechanics, so unless they do away with them there it is pretty much a “fail” that either Creatures, Inc. hasn’t figured out how to regularly incorporate this into the TCG or that the TCG’s design makes it impossible to do so and maintain game balance.

virusyosh

Happy midweek, Pojo readers! Today we're reviewing a Stage 1 fan favorite, whose latest incarnation in Plasma Storm could find its way into a pretty popular deck. Today's Card of the Day is Lucario (#78).

Lucario is a Stage 1 Fighting Pokemon. Landorus-EX is probably the most commonly played Fighting-type out there right now, while some others are still playing Terrakion NV and other, less common Pokemon. 100 HP is not bad for a Stage 1, allowing Lucario to take a weak hit before going down. Psychic Weakness is very bad against the likes of Mewtwo-EX, so be sure to keep Lucario away from the Genetic Pokemon if you plan to use it in a deck. To round things out, Lucario has no Resistance and a Retreat Cost of two, which isn't too bad to pay if you must.

The Aura Pokemon has an Ability and a single attack. Dual Armor makes Lucario into a Fighting/Metal dual type if it has any Metal Energy attached, which is potentially useful for multiple reasons. First, Lucario can get the bonuses from Plasma Klinklang, as Plasma Steel will protect Lucario from Pokemon-EX. Second, while Metal Weakness is rare, Fighting Weakness is relatively common, potentially giving a Metal-based strategy some heavy hitting power against the likes of many Fighting-weak attackers, like Darkrai. Unfortunately, Lucario is also a Stage 1 with a paltry amount of HP, meaning that even if you run Lucario in a Plasma Steel deck, you still have to deal with running multiple resources to get the Evolution line out (like Riolu), and your opponent will still have ways to deal with Lucario's low HP score.

Hurricane Kick is Lucario's attack, dealing 60 damage plus 30 more damage for each Prize card your opponent has taken for a Fighting and two Colorless. This attack is potentially quite damaging in the late game, but even still, it's very difficult to power up a 100 HP Pokemon in this heavy-hitting format, even if the attack is incredibly powerful.

Modified: 2.25/5 Lucario has a lot of potential, but it's also a victim of a very powerful metagame. If Pokemon-EX weren't around, Lucario could potentially see some play due to its good late-game and favorable typing. Of course, Lucario could still end up seeing play with Plasma Klinklang, however many tuned versions of the deck will likely bypass the Aura Pokemon in order to make their other attackers (namely Cobalion-EX) more consistent.

Limited: 4/5 Lucario is pretty good in Limited. Dual Armor allows a bit of flexibility in deckbuilding, as Fighting and Metal Weaknesses aren't that uncommon, and Hurricane Kick can really deal quite a bit of damage, too. Lucario's main downside is once again its relatively low HP, but if you are able to get it out toward the middle or the end of a game, it will do wonders for you in Plasma Storm Limited.

Combos With: Klinklang (Team Plasma)


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