I am going to get a bit nostalgic here. When I was little, one of my favorite movies growing up was (and I am not sure I was not the only kid thinking that) the second Pokémon movie: The Power of One. It narrated the story of Ash and his friends, who had to summon a very powerful mythical Pokémon, Lugia, in order to stop the evil team from taking control over the world. Lugia is, undoubtedly, one of the stars of the franchise and, as you can expect, every time a new Lugia card is announced the entire Pokémon TCG player base goes wild. Well… it seems that we might have broken a record since the latest Lugia version is, perhaps, the most broken version ever printed. What is going on with Lugia VSTAR?
Lugia VSTAR: The Guardian ofthe seas
Lugia VSTAR debuted very recently in Silver Tempest, which will probably be the last main set of the Sword and Shield era. I must admit that when I first read it, I didn’t think it was that strong. After all, I was looking at a colorless attacker that required a lot of energies to work. But then, once you let the ability sink in, everything changes. By using Summoning Star (which is something that can be activated in your second turn very easily) you can select up to two non rule box Pokémon from your discard pile and summon them directly into your bench. And, guess what. Silver Tempest also features one of the most powerful Pokémon for energy acceleration in the form of Archeops.
While on the field, Archeops lets you choose two special energy cards from your deck and attach them directly to any Pokémon you want. I can’t stress how insane this is, considering that special energy cards, as the name suggest, have very unique effects that can boost your game in many different ways. For example, if you decide to use Archeops ability twice and attach Powerful Energy to Lugia, then the damage output suddenly escalates from 220 to 300, which is a number that not many Pokémon can actually resist.
And there is more. The fact that you can run any type of special energy cards means you can combine Lugia with all other sorts of attackers that would otherwise be unplayable. For example, you can run cards like Radiant Charizard (Pokémon GO), Amazing Yveltal and many others to adapt to every type of situation. In fact, this Lugia Toolbox deck is not only a very solid strategy, it can also maneuver depending on the match up.
In trading card games, there are no things as unbeatable decks (leaving aside the time when Pokémon had to ban a deck in the middle of a format) but Lugia is clearly positioned as one of the best tier 1 strategies for the current Standard. As explained before, it has answers against every other deck and can easily tech cards to make certain match ups even more winnable.
This is how a “typical” Lugia deck looks like right now, at the very beginning of the Silver Tempest format:
The concept is as simple as it looks. Play down one Lugia V in your first turn and send a couple of Archeops to the discard pile. Then, evolve your Lugia into the VSTAR and summon two Archeops to the bench. After you’ve done that, it is as easy as selecting the right attackers at the right time and cleaning the field. One thing to note here is that Archeos can also be a very good attacker on its own so it is not just an energy accelerator. Unless you hit a very specific control deck, I would say that Lugia has not a real bad or unwinnable match up. It is straightforward, solid and can prevent getting hit by weakness thanks to Dunsparce.
We all knew that Lugia was going to be indeed a played strategy, but maybe what we did not anticipate is that it would have so much success from day one. Today, at the time I am writing this article, the Latin American International Championship has ended and Lugia secured the win (the deck above is the winning list, piloted by the Norwegian player Tord Reklev). While this was not totally unexpected, what I definitely didn’t see coming was that out of the top 32 players, 21 decks were going to be Lugia Archeops. The percentage here is just ridiculous. I think this is one of the most one-sided results I’ve seen in a tournament since Drampa Garbodor (good old times).
But it does not mean that Lugia needs a ban or anything like that. As I have always explained, the metagame moves in waves. When a new set is released and a powerful strategy emerges, it is very normal that everyone tries to play the new BDIF. After a couple of tournaments, a large percentage of the player base will start playing a strategy that directly counters the deck, making it more difficult to keep winning. I am actually very curious to understand what will end up happening with Lugia and how the meta changes around it. I think that until the next big set drops (February 2023) and the rotation takes place, Lugia will be one of the most popular decks.
There is just one personal problem I have with the deck: the mirror match is very, very demanding and losing the coin flip puts you in a very difficult position. Sure, there are ways to still win, but no one will be happy starting second in a mirror. And right now, as things stand, I am afraid that a lot of the games you play during a tournament will be mirrors.
To wrap things up, if you are planning to get into the game right now or just to compete in big tournaments, you have two options: either play Lugia VSTAR and be prepared for the mirror or play something that does not lose to Lugia. There is no middle ground. I highly recommend you to test the deck yourself and see its true power. Thanks so much for reading!
Elena (Gaia Storm)
Elena has been playing Pokémon Trading Card Game since 2011 and has never stopped. With her partner, she runs Gaia Storm, one of the largest Pokémon TCG Youtube channels in the world. She has a problem remembering the names of all the Pokémon but tends to open the most broken Pokémon packs.