The Pokémon TCG designers love to design Solrock and Lunatone cards that work together. Even though there are plenty of Pokémon that have a unique relationship to one another (in the third generation alone, I can think of Volbeat and Illumise, Zangoose and Seviper and of course Plusle and Minun), it’s the sun and moon rocks that have consistently been designed to be played alongside each other. Did you know it took until Plasma Storm, 10 years after its debut in Sandstorm, for a Solrock to be printed without any mention of Lunatone in its text?
I imagine one reason why the designers focused on Solrock and Lunatone is that they have different typings (technically, they have the same, but in the TCG, Solrock is often printed as a Fighting Pokémon, and Lunatone as a Psychic one), so they can design decks around Basic Pokémon more easily. I imagine if they had centered Plusle and Minun instead, these decks would have been more limited due to both Pokémon sharing the Lightning type.
I wasn’t around for it, but back in the EX era, Solrock and Lunatone were pretty successful, either as their own deck or as techs. After Black & White, both Pokémon only had underwhelming effects as the game focused more on two-Prize (or three-Prize) Pokémon, and they were absent from the competitive scene… until now. It’s in the Pokémon Go set that we’re finally seeing a good Solrock and Lunatone, and they work together to make a new, powerful one-Prize deck.
The deck is pretty basic: Solrock’s Ability lets you attach Energy from the discard to Lunatone, and Lunatone deals more damage the more Energy is on it. Both Pokémon are 90 HP Basic Pokémon, so they can be searched with Quick Ball and Level Ball, and recovered with Rescue Carrier. The deck also benefits from the new PokéStop card, which can both search for useful Item cards, such as Fog Crystal and the cards mentioned above, and discard Psychic Energy for Solrock’s Ability. All in all, it’s a fast deck that can KO smaller Pokémon such as Sobble as early as turn one, then 2HKO any VSTAR or VMAX Pokémon in the midgame, and even OHKO them to end the game. It’s not the hardest deck to play, but this article will guide you through some subtleties in building and playing the deck.
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ****** ##Pokémon - 10 * 4 Solrock PGO 39 * 4 Lunatone PGO 34 * 1 Manaphy BRS 41 * 1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46 ##Trainer Cards - 38 * 1 Boss's Orders RCL 154 * 3 PokéStop PGO 68 * 4 Quick Ball SSH 179 * 3 Level Ball BST 129 * 4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165 * 2 Cynthia's Ambition BRS 138 * 3 Rescue Carrier EVS 154 * 2 Choice Belt BRS 135 * 4 Professor's Research SHF 60 * 2 Lucky Egg SSH 167 * 3 Fog Crystal CRE 140 * 1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146 * 2 Pokémon Catcher SUM 126 * 4 Trekking Shoes ASR 156 ##Energy - 12 * 12 Psychic Energy SWSHEnergy 5 Total Cards - 60 ****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******
As you can see, compared to many decks, especially Inteleon decks, this list is relatively straightforward. We obviously play four copies of Solrock and Lunatone, Hisuian Heavy Ball is useful in case one of your important Pokémon (especially Solrock) is Prized, Manaphy is a necessary tech against Radiant Greninja (and to a lesser extent, Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX), etc. I’ll only explain below some cards who I think may not be obvious, or deserve some discussion.
This card may seem like an obvious choice, because it can discard Energy and draw cards, and that works well with the Item-heavy Turbo-style engine this decks is using, especially Scoop Up Net. This card is definitely worth the inclusion. However, don’t overvalue it! Towards the late game, Radiant Greninja becomes useless, because your deck will tend to get low on Energy and you’ll want to keep the few Energy you still have for manual attachments. Therefore, don’t hesitate to sacrifice it if your opponent plays an Escape Rope, or to discard it if your opponent plays Avery or Collapsed Stadium. You may be tempted to keep it as it can provide some recovery if the opponent plays Roxanne, but the odds that you’ll find an Energy off Roxanne will be low, and even then, Roxanne is often paired with Path to the Peak anyway, which shuts down Greninja (and if there’s no Path to the Peak, PokéStop is sticking, so you should be fine.)
4 Scoop Up Net
Scoop Up Net is one of the best cards in the deck. It accomplishes its usual role of being a switching and healing card, and it can let you draw more cards with Radiant Greninja, but also, in this deck, you can use it to get a Solrock back in your hand after having used its Ability, in order to use that Ability again. This means that one Scoop Up Net equals one more Sun Energy, which means one more Energy on Lunatone, which means 30 more damage. In other words, as long as you have Energy in the discard (which will always be the case by midgame), Scoop Up Net is a Power Tablet in addition to its other uses. Use it when you need that extra damage boost!
4 Trekking Shoes
This card is not only useful because it can discard Energy while drawing important cards, it’s also there as an Item card. It’s important for this deck to have a high density of Item cards to make PokéStop more efficient.
2 Pokémon Catcher, 1 Boss’s Orders
My initial list had two Boss’s Orders, which I think is currently the most common choice. However, I noticed that Boss’s Orders would often get discarded by PokéStop, so I couldn’t rely on it. That’s why I chose to play Pokémon Catcher instead (while still keeping Boss’s Orders for the option of having a safer Gust effect). Pokémon Catcher isn’t discarded by PokéStop, so you can draw it and keep it in your hand until you need it. It’s worth noting though that like other one-Prize decks such as Rapid Strike Malamar or Blacephalon (from a year ago), you’ll usually want to focus on hitting the Active Pokémon, and only consider targeting the Bench when you can afford it, usually to finish off a damaged Pokémon VSTAR or VMAX.
2 Lucky Egg
I saw this card in a Japanese player’s deck list from some online tournament and I immediately tried it, and so far I’ve been satisfied with it. Lucky Egg’s value in this deck is that it provides draw power while being an Item card. Again, Item cards are very valuable in this deck because they’re not discarded by PokéStop, so the more Items you play, the more effective you make PokéStop.
As an Expanded player, I saw how Lucky Egg improved the Ultra Necrozma deck, which has some similarities with Solrock/Lunatone. Without turning this article into an Expanded discussion, Ultra Necrozma is also a single-Prize deck and it usually doesn’t play any support Pokémon, such as Crobat V or Dedenne GX, both because it doesn’t want to Bench any multi-Prize Pokémon, and because it relies a lot on Silent Lab and Garbodor, which turn these Pokémon’s Abilities off. Instead, the deck uses Lucky Egg to get some additional draw power, and due to playing Guzma & Hala, Lucky Egg can be searched more easily than other cards.
Solrock / Lunatone works in a similar way. Lucky Egg provides additional draw power to the deck (and resilience against Marnie and Roxanne) and, unlike Supporters themselves, it can be grabbed with PokéStop. Most Solrock / Lunatone decks play Pokégear as their Item-based draw power, but I think that Lucky Egg is better. Pokégear isn’t that efficient in a deck with so few draw Supporters.
Generally speaking, you can probably get the basic gist of the deck just by reading the cards: attach Energy to Lunatone, and hit with it. However, there are some things to know in order to get the best out of your deck.
First of all, don’t put all your eggs in the same basket. That means that most of the time, you want to spread your Energy between two Lunatone. Let’s say that you can get to six Energy in play and that your opponent’s Active Pokémon is an Arceus VSTAR. If you put all your Energy on one Lunatone, you’ll hit for 210 damage, but then your opponent will KO the supercharged Lunatone and you’ll have to build another one from scrap. If you put three Energy on both Lunatone, then you’ll only hit for 120 damage, but on the next turn you’ll already have Energy in play, so you can then hit for more damage more easily, putting you in a better spot for the rest of the game. Also, if your opponent plays Cheren’s Care, then your initial damage will be lost either way, so it’s better if you have Energy in play to make up for it.
Because of that, your ideal board is usually two Lunatone, three Solrock and Radiant Greninja. In matchups where Manaphy is needed (mostly Palkia as long as they can threaten to attack with their own Radiant Greninja), Manaphy should replace your Greninja, or a Solrock if you needed Greninja to set up in the early game.
If you can get enough Energy on a Lunatone to get a KO, though, you should generally go for it, even if that means not having a follow-up attacker ready for next turn. That’s especially true against decks with healing (such as Cheren’s Care): you should take KOs when you can against those.
This leads to the issue of Bench management. Sometimes, in order to get a critical KO, you’ll have to Bench more Solrock, so you won’t have a backup Lunatone in play. The question becomes: how do you play the next turn?
Let’s say that your opponent just Knocked Out your powerful Lunatone, and your Bench is four Solrock and Radiant Greninja. Here’s the usual play: bench a Lunatone, use the Active Solrock’s Ability, play a Scoop Up Net to get that Solrock back in your hand, promote Lunatone, and then either bench that Solrock again or a second Lunatone, then play out the rest of your turn. Depending on the circumstances, you can then either charge another Lunatone for a big hit, or spread the Energy between two Lunatones.
However, as I mentioned in the previous section, Radiant Greninja often becomes a dead card after the early game. If you recognize that many of your Energy have already been discarded, then you should use this opportunity to remove it from play. Instead of promoting a Solrock Active, promote Greninja since you’re using a Scoop Up Net anyway. This way, you can get it off the field and end up with a board of four Solrock and two Lunatone, which is ideal once Greninja isn’t needed. The same applies if you had Manaphy on the board and want to get rid of it, either because you opened with it, or because you Benched it to protect against Radiant Greninja, but then your opponent used Star Portal to power up other Pokémon so you’re not under immediate threat from it (it’s fine to discard Manaphy in this situation, you can always get it back with Rescue Carrier if your opponent starts charging up Greninja manually).
The other important thing to note is how to use PokéStop. PokéStop adds some complexity to sequencing: should you activate it before or after playing a Supporter card? Before or after using Trekking Shoes or Fog Crystal? Actually, should you even activate it at all?
As always, the answer to these questions is “it depends”, but here are some guidelines to help you make a choice.
a) PokéStop and Professor’s Research
Usually, it’s better to use PokéStop after Professor’s Research, since it will draw you cards that you’d otherwise have to discard. However, an exception can be made when you have cards in hand before Professor’s Research that are unplayable, but could be useful with PokéStop. For example, if my hand on turn two is Rescue Carrier, Scoop Up Net and Professor’s Research, and the former two are not useful right now, I will activate PokéStop before playing Research. This is because…
- If I discard a Pokémon, I can get it back with Rescue Carrier, whereas if the same happened after playing Research, I wouldn’t have Rescue Carrier, so a Pokémon would be discarded for no reason;
- If I discard Energy, I can use Solrock’s Sol Energy, then Scoop Up Net the Solrock before playing Research, allowing me to use Solrock’s Ability again if I can discard more Energy afterwards;
- On turn two, I’m usually not fully set up, so any Pokémon-searching Item cards I find will be useful before or after Research anyway. Also, if I need to discard Psychic Energy, I could draw into Fog Crystal, search for an Energy and discard it with Research.
b) PokéStop and Pokémon-searching Items
Usually, it’s better to play Quick Ball and Level Ball before PokéStop, because you can thin your deck of non-Item cards this way. In the very early game, you should usually search for Radiant Greninja first, to avoid discarding it since it cannot be recovered once discarded. After getting Greninja out of your deck (or if it’s Prized), if you have Rescue Carrier in hand, though, you should activate PokéStop before playing a Quick Ball or Level Ball, because getting a Pokémon in your top three cards is not an issue in this situation: it’s actually an advantage, because you can actually get them back, and then play the Quick Ball or Level Ball to search for more Pokémon.
As for Fog Crystal, the same applies if your hand dictates that you’ll use it to grab a Pokémon. If you want to grab an Energy, though, it’s better to play it after activating PokéStop, so the Energy density in your deck is higher, giving you more odds to discard Energy with PokéStop. That applies to the early game when you still need to discard Energy; in the later game, there should be plenty of Energy already and you should play Fog Crystal first.
c) PokéStop and direct draw effects
In some situations, it doesn’t matter much whether you use Greninja’s Concealed Cards or PokéStop first, but usually it’s a better choice to use Greninja first, because it can draw cards that will change when you play PokéStop. For example, you could draw a Supporter card or a Quick Ball with Greninja, and then decide to play that card before using PokéStop.
As for Trekking Shoes, I generally prefer to activate PokéStop first, because the cards that I draw off PokéStop can help me decide better if I keep the first card I see through Trekking Shoes or not. There are situations where I’ll decide otherwise, though, notably if I’m looking for Radiant Greninja in the early game. Trekking Shoes can help me draw into a Quick Ball or Greninja itself (or a Professor’s Research, or another Trekking Shoes!) before I play PokéStop.
d) When not to play PokéStop
When playing this deck, remember that you don’t need to use PokéStop every turn! Towards the end of the game, you may find that you already have enough Energy in the discard to use each Solrock’s Ability, you already have a Tool on your Active Pokémon, and drawing more cards wouldn’t help you right now. In this case, it’s fine not to use PokéStop! Solrock / Lunatone has a ceiling; at some point, drawing more cards doesn’t do anything more for you on a given turn. To the contrary, there’s a risk that you discard your remaining Energy cards, reducing your damage output (if you can’t attach an Energy from your hand, you’re dealing 30 damage fewer than if you can), or even that you end up accidentally decking out (maybe not immediately, but a few turns down the line).
If you’re not using PokéStop anymore, it’s usually good to keep the extra copies of it in hand to counter opposing Stadiums, especially Collapsed Stadium.
There’s no need for a detailed matchups guide, since Solrock / Lunatone plays the same no matter what the opponent does, except for whether you should play Manaphy or not. However, I can use this section to discuss the relative use of a few cards.
Palkia / Inteleon
As I alluded to a few times, you should use Manaphy in this matchup as long as they can power up their Greninja with Star Portal, but if they use Star Portal to attach Energy to other Pokémon (which often happens after you play Manaphy), you can then get rid of Manaphy. This matchup is about even; I think Palkia might have a slight advantage empirically, but it might be due to the optimal list of Solrock / Lunatone not being totally figured out yet.
Arceus / Inteleon
This matchup is unfavored due to Cheren’s Care. Basically, you have to 2HKO Arceus, but they can prevent that 2HKO by healing, and take a Prize lead that will be too hard to come back from. Ideally, you should hit the Active Arceus for 120 while putting as many Energy as you can on a second Lunatone to get an OHKO after they play Cheren’s Care, but it’s actually pretty difficult to OHKO Arceus VSTAR, especially with a Big Charm.
Arceus / Flying Pikachu
This matchup is even worse because Flying Pikachu just kills the deck. You can only hit it by playing Boss’s Orders and Pokémon Catcher in the same turn, and you need to have enough Energy on a Lunatone to OHKO it, and if they have a second Flying Pikachu afterwards it’s game over. I’ve seen Morpeko RCL as a tech in some Japanese decklists, but I don’t think it works against a player that’s prepared, so I believe it’s wiser to accept the autoloss than to play a bad tech that can be a bad starter.
Solrock / Lunatone has a good shot here. Mew can heal with Psychic Leap, but it’s not as easy as it is for Arceus, as it requires more of them in the long run. I’m not sure how good the matchup is; current Limitless data suggest it’s positive for Solrock / Lunatone, but the sample size is low, and my own experience in this matchup is limited. I think the matchup is at worse even, though, as it often is with Mew against single-Prize decks.
Generally speaking, Solrock / Lunatone does well against decks with the Turbo engine. It’s easy to take early Prizes off Mew or Diancie, and Turbo decks play few attackers so even if you run a bit out of steam at the end of the game, so will they, allowing you to still keep ahead.
Solrock / Lunatone is faster than other single-Prize decks and should generally have the advantage in the Prize race. Note that in the mirror match, it’s often better to go second, because if you get the first KO on turn one, you should win the game. This is a good time to mention that Battle VIP Pass can be played in this deck; thanks to Trekking Shoes and PokéStop, you have good odds of drawing at least one on the first turn, and if you do, that can help get a good enough turn to get that first turn KO and guarantee the lead in the mirror match. (That also helps in other matchups but the first turn isn’t as important there, and Battle VIP Pass being a dead card can be more of an issue then.)
In its current form at least, Sander Wojcik’s Mewtwo V-Union Stall deck just loses to Solrock / Lunatone. You can simply power up a single Lunatone, while keeping your Bench limited enough that the opponent can’t get rid of it with Miltank (not that it would change much), and take a KO every turn. Then, when Mewtwo V-Union comes out, you should have enough Energy, or be able to get enough Energy, to OHKO it.
Finally, I just want to mention another possible list I’m testing. I don’t think it’s as good as the list above, but I mention it for completeness’s sake; I’ll play it more in case it turns out to work. The idea is to try to exploit PokéStop’s potential to the maximum; to that end, that list plays four PokéStop, Battle VIP Pass, four Pokémon Catcher and no Boss’s Orders, and instead of Professor’s Research, I run Bruno and Welcoming Lantern. Once a Bruno is played or discarded, PokéStop can draw Welcoming Lantern, meaning it can draw a draw Supporter. I also run more Lucky Egg because the idea for this list came from thinking that Lucky Egg was a way to exploit PokéStop better. Losing the power of Professor’s Research in the early game is annoying, though; it’s fine to play Bruno for four cards if you have a Lucky Egg on your Active Pokémon, but it limits your first turn potential. Maybe it would be better to play a couple of Professor’s Research in this deck anyway.
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ****** ##Pokémon - 10 * 4 Solrock PGO 39 * 4 Lunatone PGO 34 * 1 Manaphy BRS 41 * 1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46 ##Trainer Cards - 38 * 2 Welcoming Lantern CRE 156 * 4 PokéStop PGO 68 * 3 Quick Ball SSH 179 * 4 Bruno BST 121 * 4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165 * 3 Rescue Carrier EVS 154 * 2 Choice Belt BRS 135 * 3 Lucky Egg SSH 167 * 4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225 * 1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146 * 4 Pokémon Catcher SUM 126 * 4 Trekking Shoes ASR 156 ##Energy - 12 * 12 Psychic Energy SWSHEnergy 5 Total Cards - 60 ****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******
Overall, Solrock / Lunatone is a deck that shouldn’t be underestimated. I’ll be honest: while I have fun playing the deck on ladder, it’s unlikely that I’ll end up playing this deck at Worlds. I tend to prefer less linear decks that can adapt better to various situations. Also, I think that Arceus / Flying Pikachu might be a popular deck, and I’m not comfortable taking an autoloss to it.
That said, Solrock / Lunatone provides a good baseline for what a strong aggressive deck does. It’s useful to be familiar with the deck in order to measure other ideas against it: if a single-Prize deck does what Solrock / Lunatone does, but slower, and it doesn’t have any outstanding qualities to make up for it, I can safely ignore it and think about something else. Even non-single-Prize decks should probably be tested against Solrock / Lunatone, to see whether they can handle it. If they can’t come back from a Prize deficit against this kind of aggressive deck, they might not be the ideal choice for an important tournament.
Thank you for reading!
2 thoughts on “Name a More Iconic Duo – A Guide to Solrock / Lunatone”
Hi, I’m wondering if maybe Cape of Toughness would be more viable as an item option to replace maybe the Lucky Eggs or switch out 2 of the VIP Pass for 2 Cape’s … I’d love your opinion!
Tbh no bro, has no sense to increase the hp level to 140 when the most commun atacks is from 160+ , actually I´m testing with 2 copy of temple of sinnoh