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Slow & Steady Still Wins — Standard Lucmetal / Zacian V

Hello everyone! My name is Nathália Fernandes, I’m 25 years old, and I’ve been a Pokemon TCG player since 2011. It is with great pleasure and pride that I write my first article for ChannelFireball! Over the eight years that I’ve played Pokemon TCG, I have placed in major tournaments and won some minor tournaments in Brazil, but my greatest achievement has to be winning Sao Paulo Regionals in 2017 with an innovative and powerful Turbo Dragons deck. To this day it is one of the strongest and coolest decks I have ever used, but generally in any tournament I play in, I try to use a deck that I feel good about.

Play a competitive deck, but also one you feel good about playing.

In three months, I will finish my medical school and will be officially a doctor. Although I have had to study and work hard lately, this has never stopped me from competing. I want to be successful in my career as a doctor, but I still want to be able to play the game I love. I really enjoy playing and training for tournaments, it’s a lot of fun!

In today’s article I decided to bring you the deck I like the most right now, Zacian V / Lucario & Melmetal-GX. This deck caught my attention because it plays different compared to most of the popular decks of the format. While the strongest decks aim to draw many cards per turn and perform several complex actions, this deck aims to craft the game at a slower pace, with simpler actions. If things work out right, your opponent won’t have much control over the game. Recently Jack Millar won the first Players Cup tournament with this deck and proved that a deck does not necessarily have to be fast and aggressive to do well in the current format.

Because it is a successful deck with a different strategy, I started testing Zacian / Lucmetal. I decided to test a lot to better understand how the deck works and how I could adapt this deck to the metagame while waiting for the second Players Cup tournament. I think the deck was a lot stronger than usual in Players Cup I because it was a totally unexpected deck. There was that surprise factor working in its favor! At Players Cup II, I hope the players know the Zacian / Lucario deck, but I don’t expect it to be popular or most players to be very concerned about it.

This is exactly why I think the deck can do well again.

Why’s It Good?

Zacian / Lucario & Melmetal has been around for over six months, since Zacian V and Metal Saucer was released in Sword & Shield. Since then, the deck has always had this defensive strategy, in which it makes it possible to endure high damage while Zacian V gradually manages to perform Knock Outs with its Brave Blade attack. It was always a good deck, but it was never an excellent deck capable of competing against the best decks in format at the time.

Recently in September we had the rotation and as a result some older sets were banned from Standard format. Among the cards that have been removed, we lost Metal Frying Pan, a Tool card that removed Weakness from Metal Pokemon and also reducing 30 damage. This was a mandatory card in this deck, it was essential to have a chance against Fire-type decks, which naturally beat Metal Pokemon.

Without Metal Frying Pan in the format and the inevitable arrival of Centiskorch VMAX, one of the main decks of the current format, the Zacian / Lucario & Melmetal archetype was practically forgotten in the metagame. It was thought that there was no way for a slow deck with bad matchup against Fire decks to do well in the current format, an extremely fast one with the very Fire decks this deck is destroyed by.

BronzongMetal SaucerMetal GogglesMetal Frying Pan

By the final stage of the Players Cup, the Australians Matthew Burris and Jack Millar brought an adapted version of Zacian / Lucario & Melmetal to the current format, which in addition to some minor changes, showcased Bronzong, a card completely forgotten by the majority of the players. Should it have been forgotten? Bronzong easily dismisses any Fire-based deck unprepared for it.

In addition to Bronzong, Zamazenta V started to gain a lot of traction in the format – Dauntless Shield prevents all damage done by Pokemon VMAX. When Zamazenta V was released it saw almost no play, as there were few competitive Pokemon VMAX. As new sets were released, powerful VMAX cards finally started to appear and consequently Zamazenta V became interesting. The most recent Darkness Ablaze collection features one of the strongest Pokemon in the format, Eternatus VMAX, a build that Zamazenta V does very well against.

With the metagame starting to favor Zacian / Lucario & Melmetal and the brilliant idea of Bronzong to deal with the Fire decks, the two Australians who decided to give the deck a chance ended up making the finals! This deck is the real deal, check it out:

PTCGO Code
##Pokémon - 12
4 Zacian V SSH 138
2 Zamazenta V SSH 139
2 Lucario & Melmetal-GX UNB 120
2 Bronzor TEU 100
2 Bronzong TEU 101
##Trainer Cards - 35
4 Professor's Research SSH 178
3 Marnie SSH 169
2 Mallow & Lana CEC 198
2 Boss's Orders RCL 154
1 Cynthia & Caitlin CEC 189
4 Switch CES 147
4 Quick Ball SSH 179
4 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
4 Metal Saucer SSH 170
4 Metal Goggles TEU 148
3 Tag Call CEC 206
##Energy - 13
13 Metal Energy Energy 8

The success of Zacian / Lucario & Melmetal is due to the fact that the deck has good matchups against the three main decks of the format: ADP / Zacian V, Eternatus VMAX and Centiskorch VMAX. This deck has a very different way of being played compared to the most popular decks and I can see that many opponents struggle when facing a unorthodox strategy.

This different way of playing happens mainly due to the fact that the deck does not have Dedenne-GX and/or Crobat V to draw cards. These two Pokemon are responsible for making a faster format, since they have the power to draw cards similarly to the best draw Supporters in the game, just not as Supporters themselves. One can obviously use Dedenne-GX and Professor’s Research in the same turn, which is like playing two draw Supporters in the same turn.

The bad part of using these two Prize Pokemon like these is that they need to be on your Bench – they have low HP and once their Ability is used, they’re useless. You gain a lot of strength by drawing cards, but you end up giving the opponent the opportunity to take easy prizes. To avoid using Dedenne-GX and Crobat V, the deck needs to develop a strategy that is able to make up for the lack of these Pokemon. That’s why the deck is so focused on defense because this way the game takes more time and you have more turns to develop your strategy.

The deck was designed to beat the tier one of the metagame, but its strategy can be effective against other decks without even wanting to. The best example came from the Players Cup itself. One of the best players of all time, our very own Tord Reklev, played the tournament with an innovative Inteleon VMAX deck. Everything seemed to be going very well for him until he had to face Zacian / Lucario & Melmetal. Each player didn’t expect to face the other’s deck, but the defensive-minded Metal deck took the other down with ease.

My Zacian / Lucario Melmetal for Players Cup II

I consider the list used by Millar and Burris very well built, but mainly thinking for the metagame of the time. What I did here was to simply adapt this list for the metagame I expect in Players Cup II. The biggest difference is that Fire decks are now ready to deal with Bronzong. To deal with Fire decks, I fit in Weakness Guard Energy and in addition I tried to improve the deck’s consistency with cards like Guzma & Hala and Rose Tower, both of which have synergy with this archetype and manage to avoid the unspoken rule of avoiding support Pokemon in this deck.

PTCGO Code
##Pokémon - 8
4 Zacian V SSH 138
2 Zamazenta V SSH 139
2 Lucario & Melmetal-GX UNB 120
##Trainer Cards - 37
4 Professor's Research SSH 178
3 Marnie SSH 169
2 Mallow & Lana CEC 198
2 Boss's Orders RCL 154
1 Guzma & Hala CEC 193
1 Cynthia & Caitlin CEC 189
4 Switch CES 147
4 Quick Ball SSH 179
4 Metal Saucer SSH 170
4 Metal Goggles TEU 148
3 Tag Call CEC 206
3 Great Ball SSH 164
2 Rose Tower DAA 169
##Energy - 15
12 Metal Energy Energy 8 
3 Weakness Guard Energy UNM 213

Key Cards

Four Zacian V

The entire deck exists because of this Pokemon. In addition to being the main attacker, Zacian V brings extra consistency to the deck with its Ability.

Zacian VZacian V (Full Art)Zacian V (Secret)Zacian V - SWSH018

Two Zamazenta V

The more Pokemon VMAX appear in the metagame, the better Zamazenta V will be. Every VMAX Pokemon deck is built with the intention of optimizing the power of that Pokemon as much as possible – nobody wants to lose slots on the deck to put in weaker or meaningless Pokemon, just to deal with Zamazenta V. This considered, Zamazenta V ends up being effective even with a bad attack with a slightly high energy cost. If players are prepared to deal with one Zamazenta, they are unlikely to be able to deal with two or more Metal Goggles plus the damage reduction from Full Metal Wall GX.

Zamazenta VZamazenta V (Full Art)Zamazenta V (Secret)Zamazenta V - SWSH019

Two Lucario & Melmetal-GX

The Full Metal Wall GX attack is that special spice that the deck needs to further reinforce its defensive strategy. This attack has two incredible effects, reducing damage, and discarding Energy are the perfect recipe for what this deck is looking to accomplish. This attack needs to be used at a certain time and depending on the moment it can completely turn into a game.

Lucario & Melmetal GX

One Guzma & Hala

The deck that won the Players Cup already played Tag Call and now my list adapted for the Players Cup II has Weakness Guard Energy and Rose Tower. These are very specific hits that you can grab with this Supporter, making it a great one-of slot in this deck.

Guzma & HalaGuzma & Hala (Full Art)

Two Rose Tower

This Stadium was the way I found to try to solve a problem I was having with this deck. Zacian / Lucario & Melmetal has a slow and defensive game plan and because of that it is a deck that ends up drawing very few cards. Rose Tower gives you a chance at card advantage, it works well with some of the Supporters in the deck that need to discard cards from the hand to activate the effect. This gym gets more powerful the smaller your hand is, so it’s a great fit.

Without cards in hand, this deck will gradually lose control of the game because you will not be able to proceed with the strategy if you cannot perform simple actions such as attaching Energy, benching a Pokemon, or playing a Supporter. To solve the problem of a lack of cards in hand or slowness in drawing cards, I started using Guzma & Hala. This Stadium brought in more consistency to the deck in a new way and became less reliant on draw supporters. Rose Tower is searchable with Guzma & Hala, which can be searched by Tag Call, overall increasing the number of outs for the deck to be able to draw more cards.

Rose Tower

Twelve Metal

The deck needs to use a lot of Metal Energy to increase the possibility of attaching extra Energy to Zacian V with Intrepid Sword. Furthermore, it is very important not to miss an attachment for turn; both Zacian V and Zamazenta V need three energies to attack, which is a relatively high cost.

Metal EnergyMetal Energy (2019 Unnumbered)Metal Energy (Secret)Metal Energy (2017 Unnumbered)

Three Weakness Guard

Now that Bronzong is no longer a surprise and Fire decks are using Cramorant V or Dubwool V to successfully Knock out a Bronzong, I believe Weakness Guard Energy is the best way forward to nullify the Fire-type Weakness of Metal Pokemon and thus continue to have a solid win condition against Fire decks.

Although Weakness Guard is the best solution against Fire decks, it is still not a very effective answer, but at least it will give you a solid chance of winning. One thing that bothered me a lot about Bronzong is that except for games against Fire decks, it didn’t do much other than disturb the consistency of my own deck. On the other hand, Weakness Guard is an Energy card and can be used to fulfil the attack cost of both Lucario & Melmetal-GX and Zamazenta V, even in matches where we do not need the specific effect of this Energy.

Weakness Guard EnergyWeakness Guard Energy (Secret)

Matchups

ADP / Zacian V: 60-40

Against ADP / Zacian the strategy is to use Lucario & Melmetal-GX‘s Full Metal Wall GX to remove the Energy from Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX. Thanks to this attack and Metal Goggles, none of your Pokemon will be Knocked Out by an opponent’s attack (except for if they play Tool Scrapper), which will give you the time needed to energize your attackers and win the game faster than your opponent.

Eternatus VMAX: 65-35

Zamazenta V is the main tech of the match as it will prevent the damage caused by the very strong Eternatus VMAX. Everything will depend on whether the opponent’s deck is properly prepared to deal with Zamazenta V, in the same way that you need to be very careful to bench only your necessary Pokemon. Make the opponent have to knock out Zamazenta V and avoid benching too many Zacian V.

Generally, Eternatus VMAX decks have Sableye V to deal with Zamazenta V, but only Sableye V can be an ineffective response, mainly because of Metal Goggles – it just blocks damage caused by Eternatus V and Galarian Zigzagoon.

Centiskorch VMAX: 30-70

Without the Weakness Guard this pairing would be much worse, but with them you have a chance, especially if you make the right plays. There is synergy between the dogs, Zacian and Zamazenta, that can disrupt the life of any deck focused on Pokemon VMAX, including Centiskorch VMAX.

The idea is to use Zamazenta V early in the game to knock out Volcanion. Centiskorch VMAX struggles against Dauntless Shield, so your opponent will be forced to energize elsewhere and hit with some other Pokemon (usually Centiskorch V or Heatran-GX). Any Pokemon other than Centiskorch VMAX can be Knocked Out with Brave Blade – the idea is to use Zamazenta V to induce the opponent to spend resources and bring some not-VMAX Pokemon to the Active Spot and then bring the Zacian V in to KO that Pokemon. It is worth remembering that Zamazenta V with Weakness Guard can take a hit from Centiskorch V. Only a Heatran-GX with six Fire Energy can one-shot it with Hot Burn GX with Metal Goggles attached and Full Metal Wall GX used.

Dealing with Zamazenta V at the beginning of the game costs a lot of resources, resources that they’ll miss later in the game, and combined, this might lead to costly mistakes. It is also worth remembering that Zacian / Lucario is a slow deck and Centiskorch VMAX is very fast and aggressive. As much as this is a solid strategy for the matchup, it all depends on how lucky you are to have the right resources in time.

It is a matchup that I personally like to play, because even at a disadvantage I know I have a way out if I can develop my strategy. With skill and patience, you can still win this – just remember, it’s challenging.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a different, but still competitive deck to play, my suggestion is Zacian / Lucmetal. Most decks of the format, although different in some ways, involve drawing many cards in just a few turns to make extremely strong plays. Eternatus VMAX and Centiskorch VMAX are able to deal 280 on turn two of the game and can Knock Out an ADP, while on turn two an ADP / Zacian deck can take out a Dedenne-GX and get three prizes all at once after Altered Creation GX.

The current format is very fast and aggressive and many games take only four turns to finish. With so many resources to draw cards and speed up Energy, it is difficult to develop any strategy other than being fast and aggressive yourself. Cards that would be powerful in any format, like Reset Stamp, end up being weaker cards in the current format, so I find it interesting when a different deck pops up. This deck fits that bill and aims to hold all this pressure from the opponent at bay, while still having the resources to slow the game down, drawing it out longer.

Sometimes this deck can have some consistency issues, Quick Ball isn’t an out to a draw Pokemon, but it’s still very strong. With only a few bad matchups, it keeps you thinking – thinking differently than normal and taking a different route to victory. I hope you now have a strong sense of how to play Zacian V / Lucario & Melmetal-GX. That’s all folks, I hope you enjoyed and see you soon!

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