Mantis Lock – A Look at Lurantis GX/Vileplume

lurantis_by_doubleosquirtle-dacpni9

One of the most exciting propositions to come from Sun and Moon is the emergence of a new Vileplume deck thanks to the printing of Lurantis GX, a formidable Grass Pokemon GX that can easily be paired with Vileplume and Forest of Giant Plants.

Being a long time lover of Vileplume lock decks I spent the first few days of Sun and Moon‘s release messing around with our new Mantis friend to figure out exactly how good this type of deck can be, and also to try to work out an optimal build for the deck.

In this article I go over the decklist that I have built for the deck and explain why I built the deck the way I did, go over some of the cards I didn’t put in the deck, cover some techniques I’ve discovered in from the games I played, and then finish it off by going over how I see the deck fitting into the meta game.

Lurantis/Vileplume Strategy

lurantis-gx-sun-moon-138The general strategy behind Lurantis GX/Vileplume is to setup a Vileplume on the first turn of the game and then hope that is enough of a hinderance to make your opponent draw sub optimally allowing you to setup some quick Lurantis GX’s with Flower Supply and then beat up the opponent with its second attack, Solar Blade, for 2HKO’s and hope that the Vileplume slowed down your opponent’s setup enough that the 2HKO barrage is enough to win you the game.

Lurantis’ Solar Blade attack also heals 30 damage from itself, so that 30 damage of healing every time you attack can prolong a Lurantis GX’s life by making it so opponents’ attacks that typically 2HKO sometimes need 3HKO’s to take a knockout on a Lurantis GX.

You have a powerful mix up attack in Chloroscythe GX. Attaching a 4th Energy to a Lurantis GX will let you swing for 200 damage with the attack, which will OHKO most EX Pokemon and even a few GX Pokemon.

The damage math from Lurantis GX’s Flower Supply in combination with its Solar Blade is very imperfect, combining for 160 damage. Because of this, I’ve included a copy of Celebi XY93 as a spread attacker to help smooth out the damage math for Lurantis GX and to also give the deck a non-EX/GX attacking option.

Lurantis/Vileplume Decklist

Pokemon – 19

4 Fomantis SM
4 Lurantis GX
2 Oddish AOR
3 Gloom AOR
3 Vileplume AOR
1 Celebi XY93
2 Shaymin EX

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Sycamore
4 N
4 Lysandre

4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
1 Revitalizer
3 Trainers’ Mail
3 Acro Bike
3 Float Stone

4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 10

10 Grass

4-4 Lurantis GX – This is our primary attacker in the deck so we want to play a full line of it to make sure we have easy access to it early and throughout the game. With a 4-4 line of Lurantis GX, we are able to consistently get out three Lurantis GX in almost every game the we play.

vileplume-ancient-origins-aor-3-312x4412-3-3 Vileplume – He’s gone insane! No, you read that right, a 2-3-3 Vileplume line. A 3-3-3 line would be acceptable as well, but I needed to find some corners to cut in the deck and that’s when I came up with the revolutionary new 2-3-3 Pokemon line for Forest of Giant Plants decks. Players first inclination might be to go to a 3-3-2 line in an effort to create space, but this is sub optimal compared to the 2-3-3 line.

When playing Vileplume decks of all sorts, have you ever heard anyone complain about getting the Oddish into play? No one complains about the difficulty of getting Oddish into play, because it’s not that difficult. When you draw into them you can instantly bench them, sometimes you even start them, and otherwise they’re only an Ultra Ball or Level Ball away. The Gloom and Vileplume however require some level of setup, needing both an Oddish and Forest of Giant Plants before you can start evolving through the line. Because of this it’s not uncommon for you to have to throw away some Gloom and Vileplume in the early game when using Ultra Ball or Professor Sycamore to draw through your deck (while the Oddish immediately can be benched when you draw/search it), so it makes sense to play it thicker at the top of the evolution line.

There is very little risk in terms of prizing your Oddish. You have approximately a 1% probability of prizing both Oddish in a game. The only downside is that you are a little bit more likely to start a Shaymin EX, but it’s not that big of a deal, it’s a 14.19% probability of starting Shaymin EX versus an 11.84% probability.

celebi-xy-promos-xy931 Celebi XY93 – Lurantis GX hits for some awful damage numbers. Solar Blade does 120 damage, short of the typical 130 damage magic number. Flower Supply and Solar Blade combine for an unspectacular 160 damage, short of the typical magic numbers of 170 and 180 HP.

Celebi helps us smooth out our damage math as Sparkle Motion places a single damage counter on all of our opponent’s Pokemon. Its Leap Through Time Ability can also make it so it doesn’t even give up a prize when your opponent knocks it out. It can also just act as a wall that you use to stall as you try to manually power up an attacker in desperate situations.

2 Shaymin EX – These are good for giving us a little extra draw power on turn 1 as we chase down that turn 1 Vileplume lock and give us consistency outs through Ultra Ball until the Item Lock goes up. As we play a thicker Supporter line than past Vileplume decks, such as Vespiquen/Vileplume, we can get away with a smaller number of these as we’re less reliant on them for our setup.

4 Professor Sycamore – This is our ideal turn 1 Supporter, allowing us to get Grass Energy into the discard pile to accelerate with Power Supply and it also gives us the most draw power of our Supporter cards making it most likely to get the turn 1 Item Lock.

4 N – While Professor Sycamore is good in the early stages of the game, N is typically our friend as we get into the middle and late stages of the game. Without access to their Item cards, N can be very impactful as typical consistency outs like Ultra Ball, VS Seeker, and Trainers’ Mail are rendered useless forcing your opponent to hope they’ve drawn especially well off of the N.

lysandre_ao4 Lysandre –  Lurantis GX is heavily reliant on taking 3HKO’s and 2HKO’s, so making sure you have easy access to Lysandre to chase down these Pokemon to finish off knockouts is important. Additionally, Solar Blade does a sweet 120 damage which is perfect for knocking out a Shaymin EX, so you can win lots of games with the deck by taking one real knockout, and then knocking out two Shaymin EX.

Items – The deck plays a fairly standard Item engine that we’ve seen in past Vileplume decks. Ultra Ball for our primary search with ancillary search on the side with Level Ball and Revitalizer. The one Revitalizer is nice because we are playing Acro Bike, so it can help you recover from discards from that. It’s also helps you instantly setup a new Vileplume if your opponent Lysandres and KO’s your first one.

Trainers’ Mail lets us dig into our deck to aide in finding an early Forest of Giant Plants and is also solid for finding Supporter cards and search cards. Acro Bike gives us some additional early game draw and also can help us get Grass Energy into the discard pile that we can accelerate with Flower Supply.

3 Float Stone – It’s important to get one of these into play on your Vileplume so that your opponent can’t Lysandre it up and strand it active. These are also solid on Lurantis GX’s giving them some mobility when you have Vileplume in play.

forest-of-giant-plants-ancient-origins-aor-744 Forest of Giant Plants – The magical Stadium card that lets us evolve our Grass Pokemon on the first turn of the game. I would never drop below four of these in a Vileplume deck because the turn 1 lock is very crippling to an opponent’s setup and you absolutely need to see it if you want to get Vileplume into play on the first turn of the game.

10 Grass Energy – It’s typical to discern what the actual optimal Energy count for a deck like this is. I started at 11 Energy and had to work my way down to fit in everything I wanted. The 10 number has worked out well enough in my testing and I’m not sure how far you could dip below 10 while maintaining your consistency of hitting your Energy when you need it.

General Tips For Playing

Here are some of the more intricate plays and characteristics I’ve noticed about the deck when playing it.

  • fomantis-sun-moon-14Don’t sleep on Fomantis as an attacker on the first turn of the game, especially in situations where you know it will survive the attack. In situations where you don’t have 2 Energy in the discard pile, pulling one out of the deck is typically better than taking one out of the discard pile as the one in the discard pile could be saved for a later Flower Supply. It’s also a good fallback to have in general for when you whiff the Lurantis GX. It can accelerate to itself, so you can use it to setup a turn 2 Solar Blade.
  • Your opponent typically cannot knock out two Vileplume in a game, if they even can take out the first one. Most decks are only playing 2 Lysandre and are heavily reliant on using VS Seeker to use Lysandre at the right time. If you instantly evolve into a second Vileplume and then N them, they probably won’t get the second Lysandre to bring it back up, so you can pull off a 7 prize game with the Vileplume as the non-EX sacrifice. Additionally, in some games your opponent may go down a Lysandre early, and if you see two Lysandre in the discard pile, it’s usually safe to play a Vileplume line down without a Float Stone attached. With that said, be aware of changing meta trends, it is possible that certain decks could up their Lysandre counts in the future.
  • The most skill intensive part of playing this deck is choosing when to use your GX attack, Chloroscythe GX. There are a few different ways that it can be used, and it’s up to you to know when to pull the trigger on its one time use. A common situation is to use it for 150 damage very early in the game after a Flower Supply to knock out an EX Pokemon that is giving you some early game aggression to create some breathing room for yourself. Another common situation I’ve found myself using it in is after having used Solar Blade to put 120 damage on a Pokemon EX/GX, suffering a knockout, but only having a single Energy attached to my benched Lurantis GX. In this situation, you can attach a second Grass Energy and do 100 damage to finish out the knockout. The ideal situation is that you lock them so well early game that you can attach a 4th Energy to swing for 200 for a OHKO on something with it, but sometimes you have to use it to get yourself out of some tough games states.
  • Lysandre is your best friend in closing out games. Being Item Locked, your opponent will typically chase after whatever draw they can get, so playing down multiple Shaymin EX is fairly common from your opponents, so you can use your arsenal of Lysandre to go after these Shaymin EX for easy wins.

Alternative Card Choices

These are alternative card choices that may be included in alternative lists for the deck that you may find on alternative websites with other alternative facts about the deck. I chose not to include them, and I will explain why in this section.

shiinotic-sun-moon-17Shiinotic – Lots of people must be tripping on some mushrooms or something because the love of this card has been as high as a bird. Shiinotic is certainly a friendly looking fellow, but I don’t think it’s actually good.

This is two wasted card spots in this deck as you would typically be wasting resources to search out this card that could have been used to search out what you wanted in the first place. There actually isn’t a ton that you actually are looking for with this deck in the early stages of the game.

On turn 1 you want Vileplume, so you would want to devote most of your resources to that pursuit. Other than that, you have Lurantis GX, which is a Stage 1 so it’s not that difficult to set those up, even when Item locked.

beedrill-ex-xy-promos-xy157Beedrill EX – I had this in my original list for the deck to remove Tool cards from Garbodor but was finding it to not have that large of an impact on the game. In games where you go first you can Item lock your opponent from getting their Garbodor into play, and in other games when they go first they will still miss the turn 1 Float Stone a fair amount of the time.

You also don’t lose because your opponent has Garbodor out. Many games against Garbodor decks can still be one by trading 2HKO’s with them. With 4 Lysandre you also have the option to bring it up and knock it out, but I would typically ignore the Garbodor and try to prize trade with the EX (or even GX’s now) rather than take out the Garbodor, unless the opponent plays down a 2nd non-EX that is easily knocked out.

Virizion AOR – This card is okay. It can act as a 1 prize attacker, and it only attacks for two Energy. It can hit for 120 when you’re behind on prizes, but in situations where you’re ahead on prizes, it only hits for a measly 40 damage. It also can search out two Pokemon from your discard pile into your hand, but when I had it in my list I never found myself using it for the first attack.

ariados-ancient-origins-aor-6-312x441Ariados AOR – I really wanted to make Ariados work in this deck, but could never find a way to consistently set both it and Vileplume up consistently. The idea behind the Ariados line is that you can Poison your opponent’s Pokemon making the damage math for Lurantis GX’s attacks a whole lot better. If anyone can figure out how to fit this in and consistently get it out, I think that board setup is the ideal one. I just couldn’t figure out how to make a consistent list with it included, so unfortunately I had to give it the axe from my list.

Lurantis/Vileplume Place in the Meta

Compared to last season, Vileplume’s Item Lock Ability is not as strong as when Vespiquen/Vileplume was flying around the meta game. With the rotation of Battle Compressor, players are typically playing more draw Supporters in the current format and less Item cards, making the lock less effective.

However, there are a number of Turbo decks in the meta game that run on some flimsy engines that can be crippled with the Item Lock when you go first. Interestingly enough, the one deck that actually has Turbo in its name, Turbo Darkrai, doesn’t fall into this category.

m-gardevoir-ex-steam-siege-sts-79The biggest decks that are hurt by the Item Lock are going to be Mega Pokemon deck. M Rayquaza EX and M Gardevoir EX decks are most hurt from the Item Lock as they are heavily reliant on Item and Pokemon draw for their engines. However, it should be noted when M Rayquaza EX goes first it can setup fairly effectively because of Delta Evolution, a luxury M Gardevoir doesn’t have.

A big issue that Mega decks in general have against Vileplume is that they lose access to Spirit Link cards, making it so their turn ends when they Mega Evolve, creating great opportunities for Lurantis to pull far ahead in the prize race.

darkrai-ex-breakpoint-bkp-74-312x441In my games so far, both Dark Pokemon decks, Turbo Darkrai and Yveltal EX are fairly close matchups, but they tend to go in favor of Dark. The actual games play out very closely, but if you keep record of your wins and losses, it’s clear that it favors Dark. Both of these decks have the ability to consistently trade 2HKO’s with you while also being quicker than you are in getting into their 2HKO attacks.

Volcanion EX is obviously going to be terrible. Not worth wasting your time worrying about trying to beat it, the matchup is that bad.

Greninja is easy. You take OHKO’s on them and lock them out of all of their Search cards. Doesn’t get easier than this.

Rainbow Road has gone in my favor in the majority of the games I’ve played. They get a good initial burst in the game as you setup attackers for your stronger attacks, but then they typically fold to the Item lock later in the game. If you Lysandre a fatty like Volcanion EX once you have Vileplume in play it’s going to take them a little bit of time and a lot of wasted resources to get it out of there, so that can buy you time to setup some Lurantis GX to use Solar Blade for OHKO’s on Xerneas. With the emergence of high HP GX Pokemon, some players are trying to bring Rainbow Road back.

flareon_aoVespiquen decks in their current forms should not be too difficult to beat. You stunt their setup greatly with Vileplume’s Item Lock and if you N them while locking them it can make it hard for them to keep stringing together draw throughout the game making it so they whiff Double Colorless Energy and therefore miss attacks. This strategy can already be effective for decks like Turbo Darkrai and M Gardevoir, even with the Item Lock, so it should work well against Vespiquen. One thing to beware of is that they could throw in Flareon AOR, which would make it a much more favorable matchup for Vespiquen, although they would still be in a crunch to find their Double Colorless under the Item Lock.

The other speed Stage 1 deck, Gyarados is fairly favorable as well as Vileplume shuts them off from being able to use their Buddy Buddy Rescue, and with my list, we have Celebi Promo to spread damage counters to knock out their Magikarp making the matchup even stronger.

Umbreon GX decks are going to be unfavorable if they play Flareon AOR, but are slightly in your favor if they don’t as you can sneak a OHKO with Chloroscythe GX in and the healing on Lurantis GX can turn it into a 3HKO for Umbreon GX.

Passimian has a similar problem where they have a solid early game against you, but can’t maintain their team of monkeys as the game goes on.

Glaceon EX is a major problem for the deck. In meta games where Glaceon EX has a presence you’re going to want to play either Trevenant EX or Leafeon EX to beat it. Glaceon EX is a fringe meta card right now, but it could see an increase in play if the evolution GX cards perform well enough.

Conclusion

Lurantis GX/Vileplume is certainly a solid deck, but it is far from being the broken deck that some hype-men may make the deck out to be in the early days of the Primal Clash-Sun and Moon format. The deck’s core is certainly strong, but it’s lacking the oomph needed to be a true Tier 1 deck, and I would expect this to be more of a Tier 2, or high Tier 3 deck. I think it’s one attacker away from being Tier 1, and I don’t think that attacker is currently printed, so it would probably take a newly released card in Guardians Rising, the second Sun and Moon set, to get it there.

For now, the deck is very middling but has the potential to be strong in certain meta games that could develop over the next three months.

Featured Image Credit: doubleosquirtle on DeviantArt

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