today I’m here to talk about a deck I’ve started to like a lot recently: Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt, or BuluVolt, like I prefer to call it. At first I wasn’t very optimistic about the deck’s viability, assuming it had too many hard matchups, and didn’t put any time into it prior to Birmingham Regionals. However, it’s strong performance in both the UK and US showed that it’s definitely a contender in the current meta.
While playing some games with the deck I was quite surprised by how consistenly it was able to get the turn 2 Vikavolt. Dealing 180 damage from the second turn on is incredibly powerful and can overwhelm a lot of decks, even in matchups that might seem difficult at first glance, especially when going first.
Let’s take a look at the list I’m using at the moment. Some aspects of it are not surprising so I’m not going to go into detail on every card, but others will demand some explanation.
Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt decklist
|Pokémon - 12||Trainer - 36||Energy - 12|
|3 Tapu Bulu GX||4 Prof. Sycamore||8 Grass Energy|
|3 Grubbin||3 N||4 Lightning Energy|
|1 Charjabug||2 Skyla|
|2 Vikavolt||2 Lysandre|
|2 Tapu-Lele GX||1 Brigette|
|1 Tapu Koko||1 Brock's Grit|
|4 Ultra Ball|
|4 Rare Candy|
|3 VS Seeker|
|3 Field Blower|
|2 Heavy Ball|
|2 Super Rod|
|3 Float Stone|
|2 Choice Band|
4 Rare Candy / 1 Charjabug / 2 Vikavolt
Most people opt for 3 Rare Candy in this deck, but I heavily disagree. You of course won’t ever use all 4 in a single game, but having the Rare Candy on the second turn is of utmost importance and makes the deck what it is. I find it only logical to maximize the odds of a turn 2 Vikavolt happening. Evolving through Charjabug is too slow, so you only ever need one.
Playing two Vikavolt may seem odd, but it’s easily searchable thanks to Heavy Ball and Ultra Ball, and prizing both Vikavolt is very unlikely, so cutting one from the standard list seems completely fine to me. I haven‘t missed the 3rd one so far.
Skyla can search for Rare Candy or Heavy Ball and make a quick Vikavolt happen this way, while also being a useful supporter in later stages of the game, so two seem good in here.
3 Field Blower
I’ve played the Garbodor matchup a decent amount of times and am convinced you need 3 Field Blower against Garbotoxin. It’s also a good card in other matchups, especially because this deck doesn’t even have any counter stadiums, so I don’t know why you’d play less than this number, unless for some reason Garbodor stopped being a tier 1 deck.
3 Float Stone / 2 Choice Band
I’ve seen people play 2 Float Stone or 3 Choice Band, but both seem suboptimal to me. Float Stone is important and I like the 3rd copy much more than a Olympia in its place, while Choice Band is irrelevent a lot of times. They are useful in certain situations and matchups, but 2 are fine for those purposes and it’s still searchable through Skyla.
2 Super Rod
The choice between this and Energy Recycler is a difficult one, but I’d advise playing at least two in total, having these Item based Energy recovery cards felt quite important in my games with this deck. Shuffling in Pokémon is nice sometimes and usually 3 Energy at a time was fine, but Energy Recycler is obviously more powerful, so going with a 1/1 split would make sense too.
1 Tapu Koko (Promo)
This is a common inclusion in this deck, but I wanted to stress its importance anyway. Koko is not just a nice starter or a way to spread damage, but also a really good 1 prize attacker with its second attack. Electric Ball OHKOs stage 1 Pokémon like Zoroark and Vespiquen and helps a lot in maintaincing a good prize trade against these decks. It can also OHKO Mega Rayquaza when equipped with a Choice Band.
8 Grass Energy / 4 Lightning Energy
7/5 seems to be the more popular energy split, but I believe 4 Lightning is enough and having the Grass attachments from hand is gamebreaking, so this makes more sense to me.
I already mentioned not being too fond of this deck’s matchups originally. So let’s take a look at some of the commonly named problems BuluVolt faces and my opinion on them.
This is indeed a tough matchup, but not as bad as sometimes proclaimed. The key to winning is honestly just running hotter than them. Zoroark has a good prize trade because of the Break being able to copy our Nature Judgement for OHKOs, but it’s a Break Stage 1, while Bulu is a Basic and basically only needs a single Vikavolt to stream hitters all game. We also our Tapu Koko who can KO unevolved Zoroarks and make things more complicated for them.
If they go first, get off a Brigette for the whole Zorua squad, attach an Energy to Drampa, get out some Zoroarks the following turn, there’s of course not much you can do. But if you get a strong start and they struggle to set-up their Zoroarks, odds are in your favor. Whiffing a single time can mean the end of the game for both sides, may it be them missing a Darkness Energy or you not drawing into a follow-up Bulu.
I heard about this being a bad matchup too, but think it’s quite manageable, even without Oricorio. A quick Bulu forces them to use up a lot of ressources because of stopping the first 2HKO with its GX attack. That means they’ll either have to get the 13 Pokémon discard + Choice band or sacrifice up to 3 prizes to a single Bulu. At this point you should take a prize with Koko Promo and force them to take out the non GX. This means that after taking their first two prizes, they still need to take 3 more Knockouts, instead of the usual two, which is a huge deal after forcing them to work really hard for the first one. I’ve seen a lot of games where Vespiquen players took it with their last attacker because their opponent didn’t use their non EX/GX at the right time.
So in order to win, you need to draw well yourself, and hope they don’t draw perfectly, as in that case, you still lose.
A big concern here is Vileplume shutting off Rare Candies, making it hard to get out Vikavolt. Another problem is that even if you have a Vikavolt, it’s a potential Lysandre target, as attacking with it or retreating is very costly under trainer lock. However, it’s quite possible to just get out a Vikavolt with a Float Stone before their Vileplume hits the field, also keep in mind you can use their Forest to evolve straight into Charjabug. Them having Field Blower and Vileplume in the same turn isn’t the most likely, and even if they do, you can recover from at least one Lysandre.
Tapu Bulu is not a bad attacker against Decidueye, it can 2HKO everything on their board consistently, and also threatens occasional OHKOs against everything that’s not a Decidueye. The GX attack will also always be of good use. And once you have a decent setup, you don’t really need your items anymore.
Overall, I think this matchup is doable, certainly random because of Vileplume, but every deck can struggle with that.
I only played against it once, but it did seem quite hard. Metagross can OHKO and heal, while Bulu struggles to take prizes. Need to hope they draw poorly and don’t set-up two Metagross too quickly, I suppose. Vikavolt is a good attacker in this matchup because of its resistance, but I’m not sure whether relying on it can carry you all game.
Gyarados is a rather unpopular deck but still does great consistently, so taking the bad matchup here is acceptable but not great. Tapu Koko paired with multiple recovery cards gives us a chance and forces them to get out Machoke, but if they draw perfectly, all hope is lost. Luckily it’s still Gyarados, so a lot can go wrong for them.
Other than those, the deck’s matchups are pretty good.
Garbodor is around even to slightly favorable I’d say, there are those games where you just have to use too many items to keep up, but generally if you draw acceptable and hit your Blowers at the right time, you’re fine.
The Basic decks Darkrai and Volcanion can’t keep up with Bulu’s fast and almost unstoppable OHKOs, while Stage 1 GX like Lurantis or Ninetales get demolished just the same.
Grass typing makes Greninja and Lapras easy matchups, you can take a KO every turn of the game and they’d need to draw super broken to even stand a chance. Mega Rayquaza gets hit for Weakness by Koko and Vikavolt, which makes it easy to knock out at least two of them per game, which is usually enough to win that matchup too. The other Mega deck, Gardevoir, shouldn’t pose much of a threat either.
A potential play for US Internationals? Maybe. I’m sure a few will do well and make day 2, the deck’s linear but effective strategy makes it the perfect choice for someone who just hopes to run hot enough at the day. It has a lot of great matchups to breeze through and can also beat its bad matchups with some luck.
Me personally, I think I’ll end up going with some „safer“ choice instead, even though I really enjoy this deck. But who knows, there’s still two weeks to go until the big tournament at the time of writing this, so I’ll probably be changing my mind a lot of times still!
I hope you like this short deck review. Almost all of us will leaving for Internationals very soon so that probably means so new blog entries for the near future, but you’ll definitely hear from us again before Liverpool Regionals.