Lucario, The Aura Pokémon. It has the ability to sense the auras of all things. It understands human speech. By catching the aura emanating from others, it can read their thoughts and movements.
Lucario is a Pokémon with a lot of potential. It can viably attack with either physical or special attacks and has a move-pool that accommodates those possibilities. As a result, Lucario can be a rather unpredictable Pokémon, and the element of surprise can run some opponents ragged.
Its Steel and Fight dual typing, unique to its evolutionary line, is very strong defensively and grants it a total of nine resistances at the cost of three weaknesses. Among its resistances are three 4x resistances, Bug, Rock and Dark, and although its stats do not accommodate defensive strategies, it can viably defend against those types (which can be a great aid to Choice sets).
Steadfast: is probably the superior of Lucario's two traits, although neither is particularly outstanding. If Lucario is flinched, its Speed will be raised by one level (the equivalent of a Salac Berry boost). Since 'Flinch' is a side-effect distributed to only a handful of popular moves, flinching is highly situational, but it'd be better to benefit from a Flinch than ignore it completely and it's quite likely that, because of the Speed Boost, Lucario would strike first the next turn anyway.
Inner Focus: makes Lucario immune to flinches. On the off chance that a Flinch occurs, it'd generally be better to benefit from it than be immune to it.
Swords Dance Sweeper
- Close Combat
A simple and effective route to follow with Lucario. Swords Dance boosts Lucario's already impressive Attack stat and opens up a great deal of sweeping potential. Close Combat is Lucario's most powerful attack and the defensive stat drop becomes an afterthought whilst sweeping. Crunch deals with any Ghost or Psychic types that attempt to block Close Combat.
The final move-slot is up to preference. Since Lucario's Speed is just below what would be considered ideal, Sub-Salac can be an effective strategy to beat this short coming. Three (or possibly fewer) uses of Substitute will lower Lucario's HP enough to activate the Salac Berry, and as an additional advantage, Substitute will protect Lucario against status attacks (among other things). Alternatively, Stone Edge could be used to eliminate Flying types.
If the Sub-Salac strategy isn't being employed, Life Orb or Expert Belt are viable options to increase Lucario's sweeping potential. EVs and Nature:
Lucario's Speed is 'just' below what would be considered ideal. The likes of Salamence and Garchomp are slightly faster, and without the Speed boost from Jolly, Lucario can't hope to outrun sweeping variants of the aforementioned two (as well as others with similar Speed stats). Lucario will need at least 304 Speed (just two short of its maximum) to outrun the fastest Adamant variants of Garchomp (and if it's investing that many EVs, it may as well max out the stat). The remaining EVs can be dedicated to maximising its Attack.
Adamant is an alternative nature for Sub-Salac variants. With a Salac boost, the Speed gained from Jolly is less of a necessity (although still helpful prior to activating the Salac Berry).
- Close Combat
All physical sweepers can perform competently with a Choice Band, and Lucario is no exception. Close Combat provides straightforward power whilst Crunch and Stone Edge deal with the types that resist it.
The final move-slot comes down to a 'usable filler'. Blaze Kick deals with the few threatening Bug types, Heracross in particular. Extreme Speed or Bullet Punch can be used for their 'always strike first' effect, primarily used to pick off faster opponents who have been weakened. Extreme Speed is stronger but Bullet Punch has the potential to gain a super-effective hit (against Rock or Ice types).
EVs and Nature:
Either Adamant or Jolly can be used for this move-set. Adamant gives its attacks some more power, but Jolly allows it to outrun opponents lingering in the Base Speed 100 area.
- Aura Sphere
As mentioned in the overview, Lucario can be effective with either physical or special attacks. Aura Sphere provides reliable STAB whilst Dark Pulse deals with opposing Ghost and Psychic types. Dragon Pulse or Hidden Power [Ice] can be used to deal with the common Dragons (with Hidden Power [Ice] having additional use against flying types).
Once again, the final move-slot is somewhat of a 'usable filler' choice. Psychic can be used to eliminate Heracross as well as Poison types. Alternatively, Vacuum Wave can be used to pick off weakened opponents who are faster (in the same manner as Extreme Speed and Bullet Punch).
EVs and Nature:
Just like the physical equivalent, Lucario has two nature choices. Modest gives it more offensive power whilst Timid sets it just above the opponents who linger in the Base Speed 100 category.
Calm Mind Sweeper
- Aura Sphere
It's worth noting that Special Sweeping variants of Lucario are hindered in the stat-boosting area when compared to physical variants. Calm Mind only boosts Special Attack by one stage, whilst Swords Dance boosts Attack by two stages. This means that Calm Mind sweepers will take longer to match the offensive stats that physical variants can achieve. Nonetheless, Calm Mind variants of Lucario can be effective sweepers.
Understandably, Aura Sphere is the primary attack for this move-set with Dark Pulse dealing with Ghost and Psychic types. The final move comes down to a choice between Substitute or an additional Special Attack.
Substitute has two potential uses with this move-set.
Firstly, there's Sub-Salac, which helps Lucario overcome faster opponents (and makes straightforward sweeping a bit easier).
Secondly, there's the defensive Calm Mind-Substitute combination, which requires a much more experienced touch. With a handful of Calm Minds, Substitute will reach a stage where it can absorb a Special Attack and then take another, giving Lucario another opportunity to use Calm Mind. This strategy is frequently employed by the likes of Raikou and Mismagius, who admittedly pull it off to greater effect (because of their superior Special Defence), but Lucario can attempt it, especially since its typing gives it many helpful resistances (including a Sandstorm immunity). As mentioned previously though, this move-set is harder to deal with than straightforward sweeping and an experienced touch is advised.
With Substitute, the item choice is clear. Sub-Salac requires a Salac Berry whilst defensive Calm Mind-Substitute needs Leftovers (to increase the amount of usable Substitutes). Without Substitute, Life Orb and Expert Belt are your primary options.
EVs and Nature:
The simple 252/252 works best on straightforward sweeping sets. Without Sub-Salac, the Speed gain from Timid is a necessity. With Sub-Salac, Modest is a viable option.
Special Defence EVs can be considered for defensive Calm Mind-Substitute variants. It's worth noting however that Lucario can't be expected to pull off Calm Mind-Sub as effectively as the likes of Raikou or Mismagius, and it's risky throwing all your eggs in one basket (of course, if you're going to attempt it, you would probably know enough about what to do to use it effectively).
Endure-Reversal was a strategy that enjoyed a great deal of popularity in the Ruby-Sapphire days when Tyranitar wasn't accessible. Once Tyranitar became accessible, it become much less used, because the best Reversal users could have their last bit of HP picked off by passive Sandstorm damage. With D/P adding another Sandstream user (in the form of Hippowdon) as well as a Hail equivalent (from Abomasnow) and many new 'Quick Attack' moves, the age of Endure-Reversal has all but come to an end. However, 'Quick Attack' moves haven't gained a great deal of popularity because of their low Base Power, and Abomasnow's poor typing has relegated it to the UU environment. This leaves Sandstream as the obstacle stopping most Reversal users, but Lucario is immune to it, leaving it as the number one choice for using Reversal.
Reversal becomes an ideal move when the user's HP drops dramatically (and at 1-4% HP, the move has a Base Power of 200). With that in mind, the best way to make Lucario's HP reach such a low level is either forcibly with Substitute or to survive an attack with Endure. With whatever free time Lucario can access, it can use Swords Dance to make its Attack stat even more frightening. Crunch is a necessity to deal with Ghosts, who are immune to Reversal, and Psychic types, who resist it.
Salac Berry is pretty much the only choice for this move-set. Whilst making Reversal reach its optimum power, Salac Berry will activate, making Lucario faster than pretty much all un-boosted opponents (of course, opponents boosted by Choice Scarf can be faster and are a big threat to this move-set).
EVs and Nature:
With a Salac boost all but necessary for this move-set's success, Adamant is the main nature choice. However, Jolly has its uses. In particular, a handful of Pokémon who are slightly faster than it like to use Choice Scarf (such as Garchomp), and with Jolly and a Salac Boost, Lucario can outrun them.
For variants using Substitute, it's important to make sure that Lucario's HP is EVed correctly. All Sub-Reversal users should have their HP divisible by 4 with 1-3 HP remaining. If its HP was divisible by 4 without remaining HP, Lucario would only be able to make three Substitutes and fail the fourth. With its HP divisible by 4 with 1-3 HP remaining, Lucario is able to make four Substitutes (bringing its HP down to the ideal percentage). Although intimidating and wordy at first glance, this is pretty easily managed. If Lucario's Base HP is divisible by four without any remainder, add four EV points. If not, dump the excess EV points in either defensive move-set.
Hi Jump Kick, Cross Chop, Sky Uppercut, Brick Break, Drain Punch, Focus Punch, Focus Blast, Shadow Ball, Shadow Claw, Bulk Up, Metal Sound, Me First, Counter, Focus Sash, Flash Cannon, Iron Tail, Rock Slide, Earthquake, Agility, Choice Scarf.
If you don't like Close Combat's side-effect (or its low PP), you're welcome to use one of the multitude of other Fighting typed STAB options.
Hi Jump Kick is strong with decent accuracy but losing HP on a miss can be crippling.
Cross Chop is strong with a nice critical-hit ratio, but it has fairly unreliable accuracy and has equally low PP as Close Combat.
Sky Uppercut has okay power, but it's accuracy is the same as HJK, just without the negative side-effect if you miss.
Brick Break has low power, but it's accurate and it breaks Light screens and Reflects.
Drain Punch starts to reach into the power level that is too low to be worth considering on a sweeper such as Lucario. Base 60 isn't too good even after STAB, however, it drains the opponents HP, which makes it a usable (albeit questionable) option.
Focus Punch is a strong option on the Choice Band sets to fill in for the fourth 'filler' move, but it isn't reliable enough to fill in as the core STAB move.
Focus Blast is a power over accuracy option for Special Attacking sets, but it's not particularly advisable. Power is nice but low PP and poor accuracy aren't good things to have from your core STAB move.
Shadow Ball can replace Dark Pulse on the Special sets. Both moves have the same power and essentially the same type coverage. As far as types go, the only difference is that Normal types are immune to Shadow Ball whilst Fighting types resist Dark Pulse. Aside from that, Shadow Ball has a 20% chance to drop the opponent's Special Defence whilst Dark Pulse has a 20% chance to Flinch the opponent.
Shadow Claw can replace Crunch on the Physical sets. Much like Shadow Ball, the type coverage difference is minimal, but Shadow Claw has slightly less power in exchange for a high critical-hit ratio.
Bulk Up is a half-decent option, but it's hard to see why you'd want to try it instead of Swords Dance. You could try the Calm Mind-Sub thing out on the physical end of things, but Lucario isn't particularly good at that anyway and it's going to be similarly bad at it on the physical side. It'd be possible to try pairing Bulk Up with Counter for a surprise KO and then maybe have a Salac Berry and Reversal to take advantage of the low HP, but that's quite gimmicky.
Metal Sound can force some switches for the Special Attacker move-set, or alternatively, lead to some KOs if the opponent doesn't switch.
Me First is an amusing gimmick if the correct situation arises, e.g. firing back an Earthquake at Metagross. Lucario's Speed isn't optimum for this move but it's good enough to make it usable.
Counter has a couple of potential uses. The aforementioned Bulk Up-Counter gimmick is an option, the other is to pair it with Focus Sash to pick up a quick KO (preferably paired with Reversal to take advantage of the low HP). Flash Cannon and Iron Tail are two Steel typed STAB options, but Steel is a very poor attacking type. Since Fighting hits all the types that Steel can hit super-effective (and more), there's very little reason to bother wasting a move-slot on these Steel-typed moves.
Rock Slide is a more accurate replacement for Stone Edge on physical move-sets.
Earthquake is a decent option, but the main Pokémon it'd be used against are Poison types. Of the currently existing popular Poison types, most are immune to Earthquake (such as Weezing, Crobat and Gengar). For the few popular ones who aren't immune, it's questionable whether it's worth using a move-slot just to deal with them.
Agility can boost Lucario's Speed. Since Lucario's offensive stats are usable at their Base, this move is a decent option.
Choice Scarf can be used on either of the Choice sets. Once again, its offensive stats are strong enough at their Base to consider sacrificing an offensive boost for Speed.
First and foremost, it's got three weaknesses, Ground, Fighting and Fire. Ground and Fighting moves are favourites of physical sweepers, Fire is less so for Special sweepers but still fairly accessible.
Gyarados and Salamence have the ideal abilities and types to defeat Lucario, although both need to be wary of Stone Edge (and Salamence needs to watch out for Dragon Pulse). Both have Intimidate and resist Fighting attacks and both have super-effective attacks.
Gliscor has a lot of Defence and a STAB Earthquake to work with. Weezing also has a lot of Defence but it'll need Flamethrower (since Lucario is immune to its STAB moves). A few other Poison types are effective enough, Crobat has a 4x Fighting resistance and Venusaur has strong defensive stats. Spiritomb is immune to Fighting attacks and takes neutral damage from Lucario's other attacks (and has the ever useful Will-o-Wisp).
A couple of Pokémon resist Fighting and Dark attacks, which are Lucario's popular choices. The two main ones are Heracross and Toxicroak. Neither have particularly impressive defensive stats but both have STAB Fighting attacks and the resistances are quite helpful.
Up against Choice sets, some bulky Psychic Pokémon can switch in and block Lucario's Fighting attacks (like Cresselia and Claydol), but they are shaky counters, since they can't risk switching into a Dark attack.
The main thing to keep in mind is that its defences are fairly weak and its Speed isn't particularly frightening. It lacks a reliable recovery move (and even if it had one, it probably wouldn't use it) so it can't take repeated beatings too well and its exposed to Thunder Wave, Will-o-Wisp and Spikes. Just be wary of its versatility, since it can be Physical or Special, and watch out for the occasional Reversal user.
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