Trainer’s School: Lucario Character Guide

The Aura Pokémon is a quintessential fighting game character

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This is part of a series of written guides on Pokkén Tournament Deluxe for Nintendo Switch. I’ve always loved this game and I’ve wanted to give back to the community and generate more interest in it. I’ll be creating more guides like this in the future and I hope this gets new players invested in the fighting game that taught me about fighting games. These character guides are meant as surface-level breakdowns of each of the playable Pokémon in the cast. If you would like to try out Pokkén Tournament Deluxe, and learn more information about the game, be sure to check out the community Discord! Access to the character-specific Discords will help you find any information that isn’t listed in this guide, and you can also ask the players there for specific advice.

The third Trainer’s School character guide is all about Lucario, the breakout generation four jackal Pokémon. The Fighting/Steel type has become an iconic Pokémon in his own right, inspiring characters with similar designs and narrative purposes such as Zoroark in all future titles. Much like Pikachu, Lucario first made his fighting game debut in the Super Smash Bros. series, but whereas his platform fighter iteration plays around an Aura meter mechanic, his Pokkén appearance plays like a much more traditional shotoclone. (A shotoclone is a character that plays similarly to Ryu from Street Fighter and often has a fireball, a rising invincible uppercut, and a horizontal-travelling kick move.) Lucario is defined by a very straightforward playstyle with a lot of aggression in the close-to-mid range, and an especially powerful Burst mode in the form of Mega Lucario.

Lucario: Overview

Playstyle: A shotoclone who wants to close the distance at midscreen.

Values: 600 Hit Points, 600 Shield Health, 150cc Synergy Gauge

Poké Moves: Aura Sphere (Duel 5A/j.5A, Field n.A/j.n.A.) Bone Rush (Duel 6A, Field f.A.) Force Palm (Duel 4A, Field b.A.) ExtremeSpeed (Duel only, 8A.)

High Stance: Charges Synergy Gauge.

Low Stance: Invincible against Highs on frame 1.

Unique Features: Aura Sphere on the ground can be charged with a held input and has three possible stages. Aura Sphere in the air can also be charged and has two possible stages. Bone Rush has two possible followups- Upward Swing (6AA) and Downward Swing (6AY or 6AX.) Force Palm can be charged. Several of Lucario’s properties change in Burst Mode; this will be discussed in the proper section.

Remember as always to consult the frame data sheet for specific moves and their properties.

Lucario generally wants to get in on his opponent, but doesn’t necessarily want to be up in their face in the same way Blaziken does. Since many of his moves are unsafe if mashed or committed to up close, he prefers to be a little bit further away at midrange in order to get things started. Aura Sphere is a decent projectile to have in his kit, with varying usage depending on the form. ExtremeSpeed can be used to escape block pressure or as a reversal move, much like traditional dragon punches. Bone Rush and Force Palm mainly find use in extending or ending combos in the corner. Lucario’s damage mainly comes from finding long juggle combos- his Bone Rush loops- that carry the opponent into the corner, and learning these combos will be key to maximizing your potential with the character.

Field Phase

Lucario’s Field Phase is not especially bad or good. He generally wants to get out of Field and into Duel as soon as he can, but his options in Field are not as polarizing or bad as Blaziken’s are, for instance. He is fortunate enough to have decent frame data on his Field projectiles, with most of them coming out fairly quickly- none of them being slower than i19 except for Aerial Aura Sphere. Many of these projectiles will also cause a Shift on hit, meaning if you can punish your opponent’s mistakes or get a surprising f.Y at round start, you will dive right into Duel. Of important note is Lucario’s Field b.Y move, which has counter armor for 16 frames and can be used as a reversal or to punish Homing Attack approaches up close. Do be aware, however, that at -24, b.Y is just as punishable as any other reversal and misuse will end the Phase in your opponent’s favor.

Bone Rush is one of Lucario’s most vital tools, but misuse and misspacing will lead to a swift punish. Learn how to properly space 6AY Bone Rush in order to remain safe and get the most mileage out of the move in neutral.

Otherwise, your Field gameplay is fairly straightforward. Lucario has middle-of-the-road stats, so walking-and-blocking, CADCs, and Homing Cancels will allow you to close the distance very effectively against most opponents. If you manage to get in close enough, you can cause a Shift with your Homing Attack, j.X divekick, or Bone Rush. Using Bone Rush in Field can be tricky. All hits of f.AA Bone Rush will combo into themselves, but it’s -12 if blocked, so it should primarily be used as a whiff punish or in a small Field combo where you know you can get the confirm. On the other hand, the final hit of f.AY Bone Rush can be blocked and punished even if the first hits confirmed, but that final swing is only -4 on block, meaning it’s much safer. Thus, proper spacing to ensure that the first hits whiff and the final hit connects- whether on block or not- is crucial when using f.AY Bone Rush.

Duel Phase

Lucario’s Duel Phase is much stronger than his Field by far. In most situations where Lucario won Field Phase, with the exception of maybe a confirm off s.Y, Lucario will be at an optimal range to begin his pressure or can at least close that gap quickly. You can make your approach in Duel intimidating with Bone Rush, Aura Spheres, and CADCs. Many of Lucario’s Duel Phase light normals on the ground have decent frame data, but won’t lead into major combos. Still, the 5YYY Poké Combo is a decent blockstring and can be confirmed into Force Palm or 6AA Bone Rush on hit for additional corner carry or knockdown. 2Y and 6Y are both i11 and are powerful throw crushes. 2Y can also be confirmed into 6AA Bone Rush for more damage. 6YY has a just frame on the second hit- delaying the second input will result in a more powerful followup. To practice the input, try pressing Y the second time once Lucario crouches down. The 6Y:Y just frame will be important for wallsplat combos, an example of which will be featured in the relevant section. In order to force your opponent to acquiesce to your pressure after scoring a knockdown, try using 4[A] Force Palm to force them to block. Keep in mind, however, that Lucario has few reliable counter-pierces in Duel besides his own CA, so you should mix up your okizeme tools once in a while, rather than entirely relying on 2Y or Force Palm.

Lucario being a shotoclone means you can earn straightforward victories just by sticking to the fundamentals.

Your main goal as Lucario is to land a combo confirm or some corner carry in order to do most of your damage against the wall. The major combo starters on the ground are 5X and 2X, since those will begin a juggle situation that will let you carry the opponent to the wall or even earn a Phase Shift. However, since those moves are a little bit slower, you want a faster confirm into them to make them safe, which is where j.Y comes in. Lucario J.Y is i11 and +4 on block, meaning you can easily confirm into 5X or 2X. Of course, jump-ins are very telegraphed and can be antiaired by most of the cast, so you still have to use your combo starters wisely. Also remember, once again, that any approaches with Bone Rush have to be handled the same way with regards to spacing and which versions are safer on hit or block. This is why the midrange in close-to-midrange efficacy must be emphasized with Lucario: if you’re too much in your opponent’s face, you’re liable to eat a punish or a reversal. Similarly, 6X and 6[X] are moves that provide rewards much like those of Bone Rush on hit, and are relatively safe on block, (-4 and +8 respectively) they have a long startup time and should likewise be spaced accordingly so that you don’t eat a punish up close.

Much like Pikachu, Lucario’s High Stance will charge Synergy Gauge. However, Lucario’s High Stance only charges the Gauge at a rate of 0.5cc per tick, so you won’t be building that meter particularly fast. Still, since your meter is very large and your gameplan ultimately involves you wanting to use your especially powerful Burst, holding High Stance in any quick moments you can may help with meter gain optimization.

Synergy Burst

Lucario builds Synergy at a normal rate, but his Burst mode is so powerful that it’s often worth using it in order to guarantee a round win, especially during a scramble or a desperate situation. Burst Mode transforms Lucario into his Mega Lucario form, and grants him the following properties:

  • Mega Lucario can now airdash forward (j.R.)
  • Grab in Duel Phase deals almost double the damage.
  • Homing Attack 2 is a stronger multihit move.
  • 5YY is also a stronger multihit move.
  • 5X’s PSP is halved, down from 2 PSP to 1.
  • 5X is a new move that now crumples the opponent rather than launching them.
  • Instead of the normal 5X launcher, Mega Lucario can use the new 5XX followup to launch the opponent.
  • 6X and 6[X] are a different move with a larger hitbox.
  • Force Palm now has a followup (4AA/b.AA.)
  • Every level of Aura Sphere has been enhanced, and grounded Aura Sphere has a fourth tier that is a laser-like projectile.
  • ExtremeSpeed has a followup attack (8AA, or 8AY, or 8AX will all do the same move.)
  • All versions of Aura Sphere can be cancelled into the new airdash (press B after releasing the move.)
Don’t be afraid to use your Burst to turn around a losing situation!

Mega Lucario is among the most powerful Burst Modes in the game. You have a ton of new moves or followups, everything hurts way more, and your new airdash provides you with unique movement and mixup opportunities that very few characters in this game have. Your frame data remains relatively unchanged, and your gameplan is more or less the same, but using Mega Lucario effectively will allow you to completely turn around a losing match, or even continue oppressing your opponent with new tools like your Aura Sphere laser and airdash followups. Mega Lucario’s Burst Attack, Aura Blast, is i15, +4 on block, and a counter pierce that is invincible on frame 6. If the move doesn’t land or gets blocked, you can use the rest of Mega Lucario’s powerful options to continue the pressure. Grabbing a counter armor reversal after your Burst Attack gets blocked can be especially powerful.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Lucario is a very basic character with very obvious strengths and less obvious disadvantages. Despite being a beginner-friendly character, Lucario is more specialized than Pikachu and thus will have a harder time at ranges outside of midrange or midscreen. On the other hand, once he closes the gap, he has access to bigger damage and long combos. Most of his matchup spread is fairly even and the most polarizing matchups are only slightly in or out of Lucario’s favor. Lucario players also tend to not agree on which matchups the character loses severely or wins drastically. Lucario may struggle to approach certain zoners like Gardevoir, Suicune, and Chandelure, but he can also bully those same characters very effectively with high-damage juggles, especially if he’s able to punish reversals like Overheat. On the other hand, characters like Mewtwo and Shadow Mewtwo, and other top-tier characters like Aegislash, who all have options that are generally more powerful than Lucario’s at any range, can be more frustrating up-hill matchups.

Support and Cheer Pairings

Lucario’s best friend in the whole wide world is Jirachi. The Jirachi/Whimsicott Support Set provides Lucario with very reliable and much-needed resources- Whimsicott can provide Lucario with some HP and protection from zoning, and Jirachi gives Lucario additional Synergy Gauge and a Synergy Burst buff. Whimsicott can be a useful pick for a round one support, but Jirachi is obviously very powerful and synergizes well with Mega Lucario. Making one of the best Synergy Bursts in the game even stronger is an incredibly desirable buff, so Jirachi is particularly invaluable to Lucario. There are some other sets that may also be good picks- perhaps Snivy for juggles and antiair combos, or Farfetch’d and Cubone for some combo confirms- but the middling damage you may get in a specific scenario like that is nowhere near as valuable as the Jirachi buff. Likewise, Lucario will value the Standard and Special Cheer Skills more than any of the others, as they will give him both additional meter and quick access to the Support he wants.

Target Combos

These are some easy combos that you can get started with right away- they are bread-and-butter combos, not necessarily the most difficult or the most optimal. If you want to learn more about what your character has to offer, I suggest exploring the longer combo guides found in the Pokkén character Discords, as they will often be the most up-to-date with the current version of the game. The sample combos in the tutorial mode are also very good at helping you figure out your character’s combo theory.

As previously stated, Lucario’s longer and more damaging combos rely on confirming a launcher, into a juggle, into a corner carry, into wallsplat, into big damage. These combos are thusly most effective at midscreen or close to the wall. Juggle combos are fairly difficult, timing dependent, and easily dropped. If you feel like you’re going to drop your Bone Rush loop in the middle of a combo, you can cash out any of these with 6AY Bone Rush early instead of continuing with the 6AA Bone Rush. At higher levels of play, optimizing the amount of hits that Bone Rush connects with will allow you to minimize the amount of PSP accumulated, which in turn will let you maximize your damage in Duel Phase. You also do not need the air confirm to start these combos, but they will certainly help, and j.Y in particular is incredibly useful to guarantee a combo and extend the damage done.

Bone Rush is important in nearly every situation and is the cornerstone of Lucario’s longer combos.

j.Y 5X 6AA 8Y 6AY

j. X 2X 2Y 6AA 2Y 6AA 5Y 6AY

6Y:Y W! 8Y 6AY

The 5X and 2X combo starters can both be confirmed off j.Y. The 5X combo starter can also be confirmed off j.X, although this may be height dependent upon how high in the air you began j.X. More importantly, the 2X combo can be confirmed off fully charged CA and crit CA, meaning you will likely find more opportunities for this BnB combo than the more damaging 5X starter. Keep in mind that confirming the 2X combo off CA will only get you two Bone Rush loops, so the full combo will look something like this instead:

5[X+A] 2X 2Y 6AA 2Y 6AY

Conclusion

Lucario is a very easy-to-pick up shotoclone character whose power is best demonstrated at midscreen. With proper spacing and a good understanding of his tools, Lucario can be a very devastating character. Bone Rush is integral to his gameplan, both in regards to midrange spacing and his combo loops. Learning his combo theory can be tricky at first, since juggle combos are very timing dependent, but getting them down is key to maximizing his damage. Get in on your opponent in Field Phase and carry that momentum into Duel, harassing your opponent carefully at midscreen until you can get a confirm and push them into the wall. Mega Lucario is extremely powerful and can be utilized to guarantee a round win or in order to turn the tides in a losing situation, with a wide variety of new tools and mobility options. Take a Cheer Skill that will allow you to build Synergy quickly and call Jirachi as soon as you need it.

The next Pokémon in the Trainer’s School character guide series will be the first Pokkén DX newcomer hailing from the Alola region- the Arrow Quill Pokémon, Decidueye!

Written by

Nathan “Lite the Iron Man” Dhami can be found on Twitter (@LiteTheIronMan,) on Twitch (twitch.tv/litetheironman,) and at your local.

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