This guide was written by ntillerman
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the percentages you should play various moves given in this guide are not intended to be followed religiously. They are general guidelines intended to give you a rough idea of how often to do certain things. They do not take into account matchups or the unique situations that will arise during gameplay, nor were they rigorously determined by the author.
Lum is one of the most unique and interesting characters in the game. He is primarily defined by three things: The ability Poker Flourish (PF), access to fast attacks that recur through Roll the Dice (RTD), and really crappy throws. What this means is that Lum will focus heavily on blocking and attacking, especially in the early game.
Your primary goal as Lum is twofold: Get cards, and don’t die. Because of Poker Flourish and his powerful Ace, Lum is probably the character that gets the most value out of a large hand. Your early game should focus on getting this hand. So, how does Lum go about doing this? Well, by playing his two best options: attacking and blocking. Once Lum has a lot of cards, he can transition to killing his opponent with fast attacks and PF.
Now, blocking is pretty self-explanatory, and it’s something you should be doing a ton. If someone makes a mistake with their blocking, it’s usually that they’re not doing it enough. I would say in the early game, Lum should block about 45% of the time, and this number should decrease as the game goes on. Throughout the entire game, Lum should block around 40% of the time.
Attacking, on the other hand, is a little more complicated. Lum has 3 face attacks, 2 of which are fast (J,Q), and 2 of which can recur when they run into a block (J,K). These face cards all fill different roles.
J: This is your most versatile face card, and probably the best. In most matchups, it will outspeed any combo starter your opponent can come at you with, and it will often recur, even if your opponent blocks it. It is a safe attack that stifles your opponent’s offense, lets you grow your hand, and can lead into massive damage. It is also extremely difficult for many characters to deal with early- dodging early is generally a weak play for most characters, and blocking J is often a very small win.
Q: Like J, Q is really good at stopping an opponent from hitting you. However, Q is faster and doesn’t trigger RTD when it’s blocked. You really want to have Q in the lategame in most MU’s (it outspeeds a lot of really important things), and it’s much less likely to get blocked in the lategame, so you should avoid playing it as early and often as you would J. That said, if you don’t have J or are playing against someone against whom J is slow, early Q is fine.
K: This is really good at doing damage. Comboing into multiple K is great, and it is a decent combat card in the grappler MU’s (it beats K and can return to hand on blocks). J into K++, then returning all faces with RTD, is a big part of what makes Lum’s attacking game so awesome.
In addition to his face cards, Lum has some very strong normal attacks as well. They are strong for three reasons. First, Lum has crazy straights. 3,4,5,6,7, and 8 are all normal attacks. This gives him a ton of high damage straight making opportunities, and Lum loves getting aces. Second, Lum really likes normal draw- cards are awesome. Finally, his high block frequency and his spammable fast attacks make many characters somewhat unlikely to attack Lum with something slower than 1.4, especially when they know you have a J. By playing around your J and not trying to let it outspeed their attacks, your opponents will often give you plenty of opportunities to sneak in a normal.
This is a mistake I see many other Lums making- when they have J, they do not normal attack enough (or at all). Even when you have J, you need to be willing to attack with slower normal attacks sometimes. This is for a few reasons.
First, if you do not attack with anything slower than J while you have J, your opponent does not have much incentive to attack you with anything slower than J (you should not be throwing a lot early, remember). So, attacking with slower normals incentivizes your opponent to open their range up a bit, so J is more likely to outspeed things. Second, running a normal attack into a block is much better than running J into a block- you don’t risk losing J, and you’re guaranteed to get a card. Similarly, having a normal attack DP’d or dodged is much better than having J DP’d or dodged.
Finally, hitting with a normal attack has a significantly higher payoff than hitting with J: you’re guaranteed to get a card, you can do a 4 card straight, and you probably get more damage from your combat card. However, it’s worth noting that without the threat of J (and Q), normal attacks are noticeably worse and much more likely to get outsped. Also, the more you throw, the more likely normal attacks are to get outsped (now all of a sudden your opponent might outspeed your 5 attack with their Power Lash intended to catch a throw).
I would say that in the early game, you should make roughly 1/3 of your attacks normal attacks, although this number fluctuates based on number of J/Q you have, your opponent’s char, and whether or not you have a straight. The rest should be J/Q (mostly J), if possible. As the game goes on however, you should be normal attacking less- running out of J/Q is hopefully less of an issue and your opponent is more likely to dodge so normal draw is less good.
Overall, Lum should attack about 35% of the time at the start of the game, and this number should increase slightly as the game goes on. Throughout the game, you should probably attack around 37.5% of the time.
Throwing is bad but you still have to do it. Lum should throw about 20% of the time in the early game, and this number should increase slightly as the game goes on. You should probably throw around 22.5% of the time overall throughout the game. Pumping your throws in the early game is usually bad, but later on it’s often worth it, assuming you have the extra cards to do so. Late in the game, your throws actually become decent because they are very fast (especially 6) and do okay damage with max pump.
Poker Flourish Basic Setup
Poker Flourish is what makes Lum awesome. Most of the time, you will set it up by powering up for four aces, playing Blackjack or Great Pandamonium to get Aces in the discard, then using the aces left in your hand to get 4 of a kind. This is the basic PF setup. The main mistake people make with this is that they will either always play Aces the following turn (throwing when your opponent knows you are trying to set up PF with aces is actually pretty strong, since the best response to the dodge/attack mixup is to block or dodge), or they will pump their throw with Aces if they do successfully throw.
Unless you are in danger of losing the game next turn and need to kill your opponent right now, or can get lethal by doing so, there is no reason to throw away aces to a pump. Blackjack on turn 10 is no better or worse than Blackjack on turn 12, so if you have AAAA and PF, and you throw your opponent, just take the throw damage. Set up PF the following turn, or don’t- you can always throw them again. I would throw about 30% of the time in this situation, AA about 30% of the time, and A dodge about 40% of the time. Also, making your throw fast is really important here because your opponent will often try to throw your A dodge.
Other Poker Flourish Set Ups
There are a ton of other things Lum can do with PF. The next most common thing is to get 4 of a kind (4oak)with only 3 aces. This is done by powering up 2 aces for the fourth ace, leaving you with 2 aces in hand and 2 on top of your discard. This line of play can be very strong lategame when you are somewhat low on cards and can’t get a fourth ace, but bear in mind that it is much less efficient than the more standard route.
4oak with something other than aces is somewhat rare, but it is absolutely worth going for when you get the chance. Blackjack is a much stronger ability when you still have aces in your deck, because your odds of hitting 21 increase by a lot. So, if you have PF and 4oak in your hand, do not make the mistake of powering them up. Get one in the discard, fire off PF, then power up the rest.
Pay attention to your suits! Straight Flushes, while rare, do happen. You do not want to miss them! The most common Straight Flush is TJQKA. This is because A can be powered up for, and T is necessary to get the PF ability (you can use your T as part of your poker hand). If you have multiple face cards of the same suit, and a part of the hand is not in your discard, value these faces higher than you normally would. You do not want to lose them, if at all possible.
Full House seems really bad compared to 4oak, but it does have a few advantages. First, it is somewhat easier to get. Second, it does not require you to discard a card. Finally, there is zero chance of you busting. You will typically play Full House in three scenarios: It is lethal (never 4oak when Full House is lethal), you have 3-4 T in your hand and cannot realistically expect to set up 4oak 3-4 times before the game ends (especially since in the process of powering up for 4oak for your other T’s, you will set up a Full House), or your hand is small and both players are close to being dead and it speeds up your clock and it kinda set itself up for you. You can set it up by powering up for aces, then using the power up cards in your discard as the pair and three aces in your hand as the trips.
If you are using PF right, you will be playing a lot of Blackjack. In general, you will hit until you get a number greater than or equal to 12, then you will stop hitting. This is because once you get to 12, you will bust if you flip a ten point card. However, when hitting again could potentially give you lethal, it is important to calculate the odds of busting (it is fairly easy to deduce what cards are left in your deck based on your hand and discard), the odds of getting lethal, and the odds of not busting but not getting lethal. Then, evaluate how easy it will be to kill your opponent if you bust (i.e. how many combats do you need to win), and how much easier it will be to kill your opponent if you don’t kill them but don’t bust (For example, what are your odds of putting them into range of dying to chip damage? Are they already going to be in range of dying to chip damage?). These are all very important factors that you should definitely be incorporating into your decision.
Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks
-When you slow your opponent with RTD, 3 attack suddenly becomes impossible to outspeed, and 4 attack is a 0.4 speed combo starter. You should be capitalizing on this, especially since if they block you still get normal draw. I would normal in this situation about 60-70% of the time, at least in the early game.
-Your 7 is best used when they have just powered up for aces. Landing a 7 is very powerful, so you want to maximize the odds. If you really need to dig for a throw or something though, it is okay to play 7 just to cycle it.
-Before finishing any combo, always make sure you know what the odds of getting “Return Faces” from RTD are. This can help you decide between things like going J8 or JQ.
-Don’t power up for aces until you absolutely need to. This is for two reasons. First, powering up trips is much more efficient than powering up pairs. Second, discarding an ace for RTD is awesome, and you can’t do that if they’re not in your deck.
Specific Matchup Notes
Grave: Grave has a counter, so PF is not super reliable. Throwing Grave with T is not super important, so it’s still often correct to use T as PF. However, you shouldn’t mess up your hand to push through PF damage unless he is very unlikely to have a T left. 7 is very good against Grave, because he likes to have lots of Aces. Landing good J combos early, like JK++ or J678, will greatly improve your odds of winning. Because of his counter, you need to be a little more aggressive than you normally would be. Because of his Q, your attacks aren’t as oppressive as they are elsewhere. This is a disadvantaged MU.
Jaina: Play your standard game. J and Q are hard for her to deal with, and her throw game is not strong enough to prevent you from blocking as much as you want. PF also forces her to be very careful about using Burning Desperation, because her effective life total is often lower than her actual life total. This is a mildly advantaged MU.
Midori: It is very easy for Lum to oppress Midori. Your Q outspeeds everything, your J outspeeds everything besides Q and AA, and Midori has 8 dodges. Because Midori is a grappler, you will have to attack and throw more and block less. However, blocking is still good and you should do that a lot. This is an advantaged MU.
Setsuki: Setsuki will play fast attacks and throws, and you will try to block her Q and attack everything else offensive she does. Pay attention to her discard so that you can calculate the odds of her drawing a Q. Your 6 throw beats all her non-attacks, making it a very solid choice for her SotF turns- especially when she has a few Q in the discard. Your J trades favorably with her J, and you have 20 more HP. However, she will often just run over you very quickly because she is fast and gets a ton of free cards. It’s a swingy MU, but it’s even. Block Q.
Rook: Playing against Rook is like playing against Midori, except he has no dodges and has a harder time outspeeding J. Just spam J early on and mix in some throws, block less than you normally would, and once he gets AA block and Q more. If you don’t have J in your opening hand, K is an okayish substitute. However, when you don’t have J early it’s more important to block. This is an advantaged MU.
DeGrey: Ugh. DeGrey. DeGrey’s A dodge makes your attacks much less safe than they normally are, and his innate makes building a hand pretty painful. You want to throw more often than you normally would, and you also probably want to block a bit less. This is a disadvantaged MU.
Valerie: Your Q and J are really good at shutting down her offense, and her low HP combined with PF means that Lum really doesn’t need to land hits that much. Ranges for this MU are pretty standard. This is an advantaged MU.
Geiger: This is an interesting MU. It is one of the only MU’s where block/block isn’t that great for Lum, although it still probably favors him if anyone. K and AA make Geiger hard to oppress, but your attacks are still fast enough to prevent any Temporal Distortion megacombos from landing. This is an even MU.
Argagarg: This is Lum’s worst MU by far, and possibly the hardest MU in the game. Arg’s counter stops your PF game from working reliably, Bubble Shield makes your attacks extremely risky, and Hex in conjunction with the counter means that you don’t even win block/block. To make matters worse, your throws do little damage and don’t even KD. You are in trouble. To win, you need to be willing to throw with T. This is the only MU where T is a throw, and here, Lum is really grateful for it. Also, pumping your throws is much more important here than elsewhere- PF isn’t a factor, and you need all the extra damage you can get. Also, it’s often correct to take KD when you run your J into a BS and get the option to return faces. This saves you 4 health and makes it much easier to break Arg’s BS the following turn.
Quince: This MU seems to be even, but it is one of the MU’s I know the least about. Your attacks can oppress Quince until he gets his advantage time started. You want to throw a bit more early to stop him from building up a hand, but you still win block/block. You also want to save your Jokers, whenever possible, for combo escaping his dodges and ending the Positive Spin vortex. When in doubt, play whatever will make him waste the most cards to beat it.
Onimaru: Your blocks are very risky here (especially early), but your attacks are very powerful. Once he’s used a T or two, 9 block becomes a very solid play that will usually force him to start throwing. He gets really good damage off dodges and has FA, so your fast attacks are less safe than they normally are. However, it is very easy for Lum to land straights against Oni, and you should be looking to do so in the early turns. 5678ing his T attack is absolutely brutal. You want to focus on your normal straights and your high blocks, with some J and throwing mixed in. This is a mildly advantaged MU, but it can feel very hard if you block too much early and get Guard Crushed into oblivion.
Troq: Troq is like every other grappler, except he doesn’t even get to keep his block cards when he blocks an attack. Spam J mercilessly- he can’t do much about it other than block/Q/AA, and all of those lose to your block. Q beats his Q and his AA. He only has 8 dodges, and you should try to joker them. Block enough to get PF hands. This is a very advantaged MU.
BBB: Your attack spam makes it hard for him to get to range, and Q makes getting out of range pretty easy. You are also very well equipped to make good use of all the cards you will get by blocking at range. To make matters worse (better) BBB has only 80 HP. This is an advantaged MU.
Menelker: Menelker has the dominant attack and the dreaded DSD/dodge mixup. He can also dodge into Bonecracker, which makes getting PF fairly hard. Furthermore, his black face cards put a lot of pressure on your hand. On the plus side, he has 70 HP, so you will sometimes be able to just kill him really quickly. Try to avoid giving him an opportunity to hit your aces with Into Oblivion- don’t leave them lying around in your discard if you can help it. Losing your aces makes 4oak ten times as hard to set up. However, between 7 and T it is somewhat unlikely that you will be able to get off PF even if you are careful. Instead, focus on getting in for lots of damage. Blackjack is a great dodge, pump your throws when possible, and go for max damage with your J combos when it doesn’t leave you without a hand. You are Aggro-Lum, but Aggro-Lum is still not as aggressive as Aggrosuki. Overall, this is a slightly disadvantaged MU.
Persephone: Like Menelker, Perse has a lot of disruption and not a lot of HP. Getting PF will be hard, but it’s less necessary. Make sure you always hold onto multiple blocks and multiple throws- you don’t want to give Perse a chance to take your last anything with Mistress’s Command. You do have the dominant throw, which makes your life a lot easier than it would be otherwise. Also, you want to avoid powering up until she sets up BYS, since powering up will let you shuffle your deck and get out of that unpleasant situation. Your 6 throw is especially strong when you are KD, since it beats the two combat options most likely to lead to a second KD (throw and dodge). It does get much weaker if your opponent has AA however, because then mixup normal into AA is a generally strong play that also beats 6 throw and KDs.Unfortunately, Perse’s primary gameplan of throwing and dodging a lot while being really disruptive matches up really well against your primary gameplan of blocking and attacking a lot, while setting up something pretty complicated. This is a disadvantaged MU.
Gloria: Your fast, recurring attacks outspeed her fast, recurring attacks, RTD will often let you break Healing Spheres with an attack, and you can do up to 45 damage in a single combat. Lum is very well positioned against Gloria. Avoid blocking when she has Healing Spheres up- that is a situation where even blocking her attack is a not-that-great win. Whenever you’re given the choice between KD and buying back your J, take KD if she has Spheres up. You do not want to let her get as much cards and HP as she wants. Also, this is a MU where you don’t want to PF as soon as you can. Get the 4 aces, but then you often want to sit on them a bit until the Blackjack damage will kill her or put her in range of being killed. Of course, if hand size limits prevent you from doing this, then so be it. This is an advantaged MU.
Gwen: Gwen will rush you down pretty hard, but Q is great at stopping her offense. “Have Q, play Q” is a pretty good rule to follow when she doesn’t know you have it and doesn’t have access to a 22 damage dodge. J is also good, but it unfortunately loses to K. Relentless Strikes makes blocking less good, but it’s still really important to do, especially when her hand is smallish. Because of how bad Gwen’s blocks and dodges are, you probably want to throw a little less than normal. This is a slightly advantaged MU.
Vendetta: J stops his entire poke game cold, and returns on blocks. Play J a lot. K is one of Ven’s most threatening tools in this MU, and it makes his dodges very scary. As a result, you want to keep Q around to outspeed his K while you’re KD. Bear in mind that if Ven plays Acrobatics, you will not get a chance to use PF until after the next combat. This makes AA a really bad way to set up PF in this MU, since he can Acro your AA and then throw, guaranteeing that the top two card of your discard are not both aces. In general though, if Lum just sticks to his normal gameplan he will dominate at every stage of the game. This is an advantaged MU.
Zane: Here is yet another MU where Lum’s attack spam is awesome. Zane has a hard time dealing with Q/J, since he can’t outspeed them and his dodges are not great. Also, Lum has multiple attacks faster than 1.0 speed, making Meaty Attacks somewhat unimpressive. However, Zane does have 2 very, very strong tools against Lum. The first is Maximum Anarchy, a 50 damage, 0.0 speed attack that Zane can fairly easily get in this MU by blocking a lot. As a result, it is important to not let Zane get away with repeatedly blocking; you might need to increase your throw percentages. The second is his ability Creator and Destroyer. It allows him to completely randomize Lum’s hand whenever he hits with a K or uses all his combo points- as a result, PF is much less reliable in this MU than it might otherwise be. You want to get PF off as soon as possible- unlike in other MU’s, it is very bad to sit on it. Still, this MU is mildly advantaged.
This guide was written by ntillerman