Zi Xing’s Musings: Is Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu GX finally consistent for Worlds?

Written by Chiew Zi Xing
Zi Xing is a Malaysian Senior Division player with a decorated background, winning the 2017 Malaysia Regional Championships & 2017 Singapore Special Event. This season, he reached an impressive Top 8 finish in Sydney (as the first seed) and winning the 2018 Philippines Special Event. He also finished runners-up in this year’s Thailand and Singapore Special Events.

A consistent VikaBulu (Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu GX) build – a misnomer? Since it’s release, many players have agonised endlessly over the consistency of VikaBulu.

Just as a reminder, VikaBulu is a fairly simple deck. It aims to play down a Vikavolt (Sun & Moon) and utilize Strong Charge (Vikavolt’s ability) to load up energy on to Tapu Bulu GX so that it can take repeated, big knockouts with Nature’s Judgement. This attack has a base 180 damage, with can be increased with a Choice Band or Fighting Fury Belt. Tapu Bulu GX also has no weakness.

VikaBulu has seen some success with its immense power and ability to take repeated one-hit Knock Outs after setting up, but also for its inability to setup Vikavolt on a consistent basis. However, I have a an unorthodox solution to this problem:

Zi Xing Musings 1 - VikaBulu

How does this deck work?
This list functions just like any other VikaBulu list, in trying to setup Vikavolt and use it’s Strong Charge Ability on Tapu Bulu GX. However, it cuts most off its draw supporter for other strange pieces that may not seem to fit well into the deck at first sight. Why?

As many VikaBulu players would understand, playing a Cynthia or Sycamore does not give you a good chance of drawing into a Rare Candy and Vikavolt combo.

That is why this list has transitioned from the conventional draw supporters that in reality, do not manage to efficiently find the resources required, to more search based cards, like Volkner and Skyla, which guarantee that you have exactly what you need, when you need it.

It is almost safe to say that your game plan is mapped out even before you draw your opening hand:

  • Turn 1: Brigette, Attach an Energy card, pass.
  • Turn 2: Skyla or Volkner for the required combo piece, Rare Candy for Vikavolt, Strong Charge to Tapu Bulu GX, take a knockout
  • Other turns: Sweep your opponent’s board with your Tapu Bulu GX, while looking to develop a second Vikavolt, and attaching Fighting Fury Belt where appropriate.

Experienced players may be wondering about the mysteriously low counts of certain cards. The reason for this is that every card can be obtained by a search supporter like Skyla or Volkner (directly, or indirectly).

For example,if you need a Grass Energy, you can search for Professor’s Letter,. If you need Pokémon, you can grab an Ultra Ball. In turn, you can use the Ultra Ball to pull out a Tapu Lele GX in the deck for yet another Supporter the following turn; this makes for many outs to virtually any card in your deck.

Pal Pad is also present to recycle whatever supporters that were burned too quickly early to mid game. Moreover, the fact that there are no difficult combos that are necessary to draw into after the turn 2 Vikavolt, means that it is perfectly safe to rely on supporters to get what you need to continue your game smoothly.

VikaBulu has relatively good matchups headed into the World Championships this year. Here’s some quick tips on how some main matchups are played, and how favoured they are:

Buzzwole GX
Against Buzzwole GX variants, you will look to get Fighting Fury Belt attached to Tapu Bulu GX, so that “Baby” Buzzwole (Forbidden Light) has a difficult time to two-hit Knock Out, while you can take KOs without discarding energy.

If they choose to use Lycanroc GX, you can easily hit it for weakness, and Buzzwole GX is easily one-hit Knocked Out as well; this means that you can destroy their whole deck in one attack, rarely needing to even discard the energy for Nature’s Judgement while they struggle to respond.

If they play Garbodor (Breakpoint), time your Field Blower appropriately to get rid of both their tool on Garbodor and Fighting Fury Belt on Buzzwole GX at the same time. Keep in mind that they also struggle to get a Knock Out due to your own Fighting Fury Belt. In the case of Garbodor GRI being in the deck as well, assess your opening hand and decide whether you should try to conserve items, or go all-in and just attempt to Guzma out Trubbish. While Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX is favourable, other variants of Buzzwole GX may prove difficult for VikaBulu.

Zoroark GX
This matchup is extremely variant dependent. In many cases, one Xurkitree GX would be enough to convince your opponent to surrender – Zoroark GX/Magcargo (with and without counters) and Zoroark GX/Garbodor with Unit Energy, etc.

Against Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX and other variants, target Tapu Lele GX, and ensure good use of your only Choice Band. If this fails, you will likely be out-healed and lose the game. Don’t forget that early Parallel City plays are a threat, as they limit the number of Tapu Lele GX you can play.

Rayquaza GX
Tapu Bulu GX easily streams Knock Outs while Rayquaza GX struggles to find enough Energy cards to respond. Conserve Field Blowers, as Fighting Fury Belt can slow down the game: something you desperately do not desire, as it will allow Rayquaza GX to get more Energy on board. A favoured matchup.

Do your best to trade Knock Outs, and decide by your opponent’s second turn whether you should save Guzma for Moon’s Eclipse GX from Dawn Wings Necrozma GX, or go for the Malamar.

The trading of KOs is fairly even, but their access to Parallel City to stop Tapu Lele GX from getting played out means that this matchup is slightly negative for VikaBulu.

Personally, I feel that this deck has a lot of potential going into the World Championships, and that this concept of consistency has a lot of potential going into the next season. I hope this article has helped you gain a deeper understanding of VikaBulu and that it will help you in future events.

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