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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Zekrom #64

- Roaring Skies

Date Reviewed:
July 7, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard:
Expanded:
Limited:

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

Man, am I tired from the weekend, or is Zekrom just that bad? Hehehehehe-well, it's both. 

Zekrom may have been a force to reckon with back in the day, but this card is definitely not the same kind of power that was. Energy Stream works similarly to a lot of attacks that retrieve Energy from the discard pile, only it attaches the Energy to Zekrom. Alright, 1-for-30, gets another Energy on board, not too bad, can't complain unless the second attack is bad. 

...oh right. 

You're ultimately building up to Electric Ball, a 4-for-100 vanilla strike which is pretty bad. I think it pretty much goes without saying you REALLY don't want this to be your Holo Rare. Ever. If Energy Stream could attach the Energy to a Benched Pokemon, that'd be another story, but as is, Zekrom's just building up to be another disappointing card. At least he looks shiny! 

Rating 

Standard: 1/5 (pretty much useless, I know you're not running this guy) 

Expanded: 1.5/5 (mildly better for Eels, which can fuel his attack, but that's really being too generous) 

Limited: 3/5 (at least Electric Ball has some use in a slower format) 

Arora Notealus: Zekrom really has fallen from grace, hasn't he? Back when he was just a 130 HP Basic - the biggest Basics around at that time - he had his own deck build to power himself up and use Outrage and Bolt Strike to decimate opponents. Now? Now he's this. 

Next Time: Check out this super cool promotional card!


Otaku

So… if you’re a regular reader all caught up you’re probably wondering what happened to my contributions for Part I?  Well all of them were started but I couldn’t seem to get a single one done in time.  No excuses; I’m sorry I didn’t manage to make those deadlines, especially five times in a row since I whiffed on Monday as well.  So let us just dive right into Zekrom (XY: Roaring Skies 64/108) so I can finally get one in (and then maybe finish off all started-but-incomplete CotDs waiting on me). 

Zekrom is a Dragon-Type; no surprise this is our second week covering them and nothing has changed as it is a good Type owing to its support, though it can only hit BW-era Dragon-Types for Weakness, with the lack of Resistance being nice but rarely relevant.  Being a Basic is the best; one slot in your deck yields one playable copy of the card and to put it into play is as simple as having an empty Bench slot (or opening with the card in hand).  130 HP is the maximum printed on Basics that are not also Pokémon-EX; it isn’t enough to guaranteed surviving a hit and in fact, a deck focused on damage output (and not, say enacting an Item lock) is almost certainly going to be able to do the deed.  The exceptions abound though and of course the first turn or two of the game said damage output tends to be lower, and that can be surprisingly relevant.  The Fairy-Type Weakness is not irrelevant but I don’t see Fairy-Types often splashed into off-Type decks: enabling supporting attackers (or supporting attacks on primary attackers) to score a OHKO (or OHKO with less resources) is still dangerous but a far better deal than the worst Weaknesses.  The lack of Resistance is common so I won’t penalize the score but with 130 HP, even Resistance to a rarely encountered Type would have been for a small bump.  The Retreat Cost of two seems to be functionally average as it is high enough you have good incentive to avoid paying it but low enough that sometimes it will be worth it.  As this is a Dragon-Type, take note that Hydreigon-EX and its Dragon Road Ability can make Zekrom into a free retreater. 

Zekrom brings two attacks: no Ability and no Ancient Trait.  The first (Energy Stream) requires just [L] and hits for 30 damage while allowing you to attach a basic Energy card from your discard pile to itself.  This is… adequate.  Solid.  I hesitate to call it “good” because you are attaching to the Pokémon that is easiest to KO (your Active) via an attack (so your turn is done at that point):  your opponent has a great chance to remove Zekrom and its Energy from the board, even if you went to the trouble of including a combo to move said Energy to something else.  Of course, building Energy on Zekrom for its own sake can help pay for its second attack (Electric Ball) which requires [RLLC] to hit for 100 damage (no other costs or effects).  This attack might be a bit underpowered, or only made adequate through Energy Stream; attach a source of [L] Energy, Energy Stream with a basic Energy you can attach in the discard and do so, then if you survive you’re an additional Energy attachment plus minor Energy acceleration away from delivering the hit.  Something as simple as Double Dragon Energy means a 100 damage from this 130 HP Basic.  The thing is you’re paying for at least that much and probably more; four total Energy required with two different Type requirements.  Thanks to the available Energy acceleration, 100 is still “solid” and I don’t think they could have it hit too much harder (even with added drawbacks) and keep it balanced. 

Before exploring more combos, let us run through this card’s direct competition, though much like Reshiram (XY: Roaring Skies 63/108) which we looked at last Monday, this is largely due to the shared name.  Zekrom (Black & White 47/114, 114/114; BW Black Star Promo BW005, BW24; BW: Next Destinies 50/99; BW: Legendary Treasures 51/113, 115/113) and BW: Plasma Freeze 39/116 are so many cards and yet just two versions.  They are “built” quite similarly to today’s card, with the (game relevant) differences being that they are Lightning-Types with Fighting Weakness and two different attacks (which are also different between the two of them).  I’ll tell you now that they are dissimilar enough that only perhaps in Lightning Energy heavy decks might they compete with each other because just about everything else will clearly favor one or the other… and odds are today’s Zekrom only wins under very specific circumstances I’ll detail later. 

Black & White 47/114 (and its many alternate art re-releases) has “Outrage” and “Bolt Strike”; the former requires [CC] to do 20 damage plus 10 more per damage counter on Zekrom (that is, itself) while the latter needs [LLC] but then does 120 damage but with 40 points of damage to itself.  We reviewed it twice, one regular and as the second place pick for our Top 10 of 2011 (we hadn’t started doing Top 10s for the individual sets at that time).  This card once ruled tournament play but now?  It is just a really good Lightning-Type, non-Pokémon-EX Basic attacker but still not necessarily the best.  BW: Plasma Freeze 39/116 only got one review where I badly overrated… or would have except apparently I didn’t submit one.  Its attacks are “Mach Claw” for [LCC] and Fusion Bolt for [LCCC].  Mach Claw does 50 while ignoring Resistance while Fusion Bolt does 80 plus 40 if you have a Reshiram on your Bench.  The first attack is noticeably overpriced (or underpowered) but reliable while the latter is a decent deal… except I ended up being wrong that in thinking BW: Plasma Freeze 39/116 was worth space over the older Zekrom since it could exploit Lightning-Type Weakness without needing as much specifically Typed Energy or any self-damage, tag teaming with whatever Reshiram fit the deck.  For the record, when these two square off, the original Zekrom wins; probably head-to-head, but also in terms of fighting for deck space. 

So getting back to today’s offering… where is it the best choice fit in?  Exploiting Dragon-Type support seems obvious, but what else?  I think it might be meant as an “emergency” fallback option and/or alternate opener.  After all unless you’ve got a lot of Energy acceleration, Druddigon (XY: Flashfire 70/106) is probably the better closer since you just wait until your opponent takes a KO, then use whatever Energy acceleration is available (even just a Double Colorless Energy) to use Revenge for a quick 90 damage.  Yes, there is a risk that the opponent will score the KO without technically doing damage and thus bypass the clause in Revenge, but the rest of the time its just 10 less damage for not only two less Energy, but two of any Energy.  Rayquaza (BW: Dragon Vault 11/20; BW: Dragons Exalted 128/124; BW: Legendary Treasures 93/113) offers just as fast an attacker that needs one less Energy to hit for only 10 less damage but while also ignoring effects on the Defending Pokémon and Reshiram (XY: Roaring Skies 63/108) can’t attack for one Energy but it has its Turboblaze Ability while its Bright Wing attack needs the same amount and Types of Energy (just replace one [L] requirement with an [R] requirement) to hit for 110 damage, though with an easily accommodated [R] Energy discard.  So… Zekrom only really makes sense in a deck that could have accommodated all of these potential back-up attackers but needed one that accelerates Energy from the discard pile (even if only to itself) and/or isn’t relying on an Ability. 

While that is incredibly niche, it might be a legitimate use for the card in Standard and even Expanded (where it neither gains nor loses much).  In Limited, this has the potential to be a +39 deck… but not a lot of potential; such decks run a single Basic Pokémon to ensure that is what the player opens with, but at the cost of losing if it goes down.  Unless you manage to also pull and run several copies of Ultra Ball (so you can discard basic Energy cards, not to search anything out) you won’t be able to accelerate Energy via Energy Stream.  You may as well hope to pull and draw into two Double Dragon Energy instead so that you can start using Electric Ball by your second turn… and even then your opponent might still overwhelm your HP.  Fortunately this is fantastic to work into just about any non-gimmick Limited deck; you’ll need a few Lightning Energy and Fire Energy as well, but as long as at least one Lightning Energy card (or a Double Dragon Energy) is handy, you can attach the rest from the discard pile.  Zekrom will then likely be better than most of what you’ll encounter due to the pull rate on Pokémon-EX and difficulty of not only pulling but drawing into and actually getting Evolutions into play. 

Ratings

 

Standard: 2/5 

Expanded: 2/5 

Limited: 4.5/5 

Summary: Zekrom is a card that as a reviewer looking at what is competitive, is badly underpowered… but as someone looking at a balanced game is built about right or perhaps even a bit too good (big Basics with single Energy attacks that do damage while accelerating Energy are begging for sick combos).  If you want something that doesn’t care about Abilities going down, Items being blocked, effects that work on Pokémon-EX or Special Energy, then this might actually be the back-up attacker for your Dragon-Type deck, though that last thing (Special Energy) only applies if you run both basic Fire Energy and Lightning Energy cards (and you still would prefer to be able to attach a Double Dragon Energy).  It isn’t “good” but it is one of those cards I cringe for labeling “underpowered” and I won’t call it bad because it really isn’t: it does what it is supposed to do and does so competently.  It is just “competent” is far short of “competitive” right now.


Emma Starr

            Ah Zekrom, the Pokémon that seeks ideals…I guess. N and some other characters in the game say that’s what Zekrom and the hero strove for thousands of years ago…I think (it’s been awhile since I played B/W). But for a Pokémon that’s never shown to talk in the anime or in any other form of media, he dosen’t really get to tell us what’s on his mind very much. But he/Reshiram do choose to be with N or the player, near the end of the game, which actually provides a much more deeper and emotional ending to a great game than any other main series game. The Mystery Dungeon series has always had a tear-jerking ending(s), except maybe the 3DS one that I refused to play. Thankfully, there’s another one that Nintendo recently announced that’s coming sometime this winter that more closely follows the classic PMD formula, which I’m majorly hyped about. Wait, what was I here for again? Oh, right, Zekrom.

            So, Zekrom has 130 HP, which is an average, but nice amount for a Basic. He has a 2x Weakness to Fairy, just like a lot of the other Dragons we’ve taken a look at, and a Retreat Cost of two, which his first attack can easily help you get.

            For one Electric Energy, Zekrom can use Energy Stream for 30 damage, and can attach a basic Energy from your discard pile to himself. So, that means no Double Dragon Energies, like you may be wanting to use on him. Basically, it’s a nice little powering-up attack that does some damage on the side as well. But once you power up, what can Zekrom do then?

            Electric Ball (which could have easily been called Fusion Bolt, since in the games, Fusion Bolt just looks like Zekrom cloaking itself in an electric ball, and slamming itself into the opponent in a very awesome fashion), does 100 damage for one Fire, two Electric, and one Colorless Energies. Although it sounds nice in general, I feel that 100 damage is actually kind of low for an attack like this, especially since it has two different energy requirements. However, Rayquaza EX and Mega Rayquaza EX (ROS 60+61) (and Rayquaza EX (DE 85) if you’re playing Expanded) both use those same Energy typings, so you may want to consider running them as well if you plan on running Zekrom, as they allow you to power them up with the same energies, while allowing you to not have to rely on Double Dragon Energy as much. Mega Rayquaza’s Dragon Ascent attack discards 2 energy as well, which can definitely help Zekrom when it comes to its first attack. All in all, a fairly straightforward card, and if you run Fire-Electric, you should definitely consider running this.         

Standard: 2.85/5

            Expanded: 2.9/5 (Yes, it gains 0.05 for the old Rayquaza EX being in it. Don’t judge. :P )

            Limited: 4/5 (Has great synergy with his Rayquaza friends, so if you pick up an EX or two of the Dragon type Rayquazas, may as well add Zekrom into the mix as well. Not to mention he can be powered up kind of quickly, then you can get the 100 damage train going into maximum overdrive.)


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