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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Zapdos

- Roaring Skies

Date Reviewed:
June 17, 2015

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.50
Expanded: 2.50
Limited: 3.75

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

So far we've seen a couple of okay to not-so-okay Electric types - now we move onto something that I imagine might see more play than you'd think. Here we've got the mighty Zapdos! He sure has come a long way since Base Set - that's right, he showed up in the very first set, something neither of the other birds can attest to! 

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Zapdos still has an uphill battle ahead of him, and the highlight of this guy ain't his Drill Peck. Sure, it's only 1-for-20, but that's vanilla damage, and that's not why we're here today. No, we're here to look at Raging Thunder, a 3-for-120 bolt that does another 40 to a Bench sitter.

Now why would this be important? Well my thought on the matter is that it hits Colorless M Rayquaza-EX for a OHKO unboosted thanks to Weakness - and that's from a BASIC NON-EX!! That already makes him a clear tech, and he's pretty much part of the reason that M Rayquaza-EX Decks need - I mean, ABSOLUTELY NEED - to run Altaria (ROS). To which Zapdos can hit for a good 40 damage - provided he doesn't get totally thrashed by M Rayquaza-EX (which let's be honest...he should, only requiring 4 Pokemon on the Bench for an unboosted OHKO), he can KO the M Rayquaza-EX on his next turn and set-up Altaria to be finished off on the next turn! 

So here's my thoughts on a strategy: M Manectric-EX. Use him to power up some Zapdos on your Bench, let the M Rayquaza-EX decimate the M Manectric-EX, and then let your Zapdos take care of it. I know, not much of a strategy, but if Altaria's not onboard, this can be heavily in the M Manectric-EX player's favor as they get a lot of Energy onto their back-up attackers while dealing LOTS of damage until the opponent puts down that Altaria. Which means M Rayquaza-EX players should be running Wally to evolve their Swablu ASAP - it costs the supporter, but at least it won't cost them the game. 

In any case, Zapdos is a solid basic Pokemon, and I'm certain that he'll play a substantial role in the upcoming meta. 

Rating 

Standard: 2.5/5 (a fairly powerful attack that hits one of the biggest threats for massive damage) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (about the same here, just more Weaknesses to exploit like Tornadus-EX) 

Limited: 3.5/5 (a pretty heavy Electric-weak set, so really, he oughta be fine here) 

Arora Notealus: Zapdos was more of the middle bird for me in the trio. No that's not cause he's "dos," he just falls in the middle for me. I like his design, I like his style, but he just seemed kinda...meh. Oh, but what do I know, he's OU, and my pretty blue bird is in NU. Man I love rooting for the underdog, no wonder I like playing Little Mac in Sm4sh!! 

...have I mentioned yet how awesome it is that Ryu's in Sm4sh? 

Next Time: The wrath of the thunder djinn descends upon you!!


Emma Starr

                Today’s Pokémon is Zapdos, who was actually the first legendary I ever caught in the games, in Blue version. Back when I didn’t know pretty much anything about Pokémon. I think I just decided to defeat Articuno when I ran into it, and I never ran into Moltres during my playthrough. Even when I played Yellow not long ago, I still never found Moltres… :/

                Anyway, today’s Zapdos has 120 HP, a weakness to Electric (interesting…), and a Resistance to Fighting types. So, we have the standard basic non-EX HP, a weakness that you normally hardly ever see on Electric Pokémon, and a very useful type Resistance. Unfortunately, it also has an unimpressive retreat cost of two. So, what else does Zapdos have? Well, he has a very uninteresting Drill Peck attack, which does 20 for one Lightning energy, and nothing else. Moving on…

                Zapdos’s much more interesting attack is Raging Thunder, which for two Lightning and one Colorless, you do 120, but you have to choose one of your benched Pokémon to do 40 damage to. First off, there is an interesting, but situational and kind of risky trick you could do to avoid the recoil of this attack. If you have Zapdos in your starting hand, you could choose to play it, and not put any other Pokémon on your bench. Or, if you’re slightly later into the game, and you don’t have any Energies on your benched Pokémon you have in play, or you don’t mind using turns to re-attach them later, you could use a Super Scoop-Up to return those benched Pokémon to your hand. But remember, I said this was very situational for a reason. Although 120 HP is usually the best you can hope for on a non-EX basic, you could always get damaged by said attack, get some unlucky Sleep flips from Hypnotoxic Laser, etc (I would include possible Strong Energy bonuses as well, but since Zapdos has a Resistance to Fighting types, I think you would most likely be okay with those in most cases). So, is it worth it to go to all the trouble to make sure that you have no benched Pokémon on the field? In most cases, no, it wouldn’t be. Unless it’s very early in the game, there normally could always be a way for your opponent to counter this, by switching out to a heavy hitter, and taking out your only Pokémon on the field, Zapdos, and winning the game. And if you happen to be holding another basic in your hand, what if your opponent decides to N, and you get an unlucky draw afterwards? As I said, it’s risky, but normally Zapdos won’t be having more than two turns anyway, in most circumstances, so you could use some other basic just for the role of soaking up the damage from this attack, and since your opponent didn’t do anything to it, they wouldn’t get a prize card for it either. So, although the recoil can be bad if the attack is used consistently, you really can’t beat that energy-for-damage ratio, and there are ways to get around that recoil, if you really feel the need.

                Standard: 2.5/5

                Expanded: 2.5/5

                Limited: 4/5 (want to one shot almost anyone who’s not EX with one attack that’s not overly expensive? Well, here you go.)

Otaku

Time to see if we can power through the middle of the week with Zapdos (XY: Roaring Skies 23/108), which is another card found in the Storm Rider Theme Deck and is our third Lightning-Type this week.  As I’ve been saying, the Lightning-Type has one major strength right now (exploiting Weakness).  Lightning Resistance is out there (sometimes on important cards like Landorus-EX) but so is that Weakness (found on prominent targets like Yveltal-EX) and doubling damage is a lot more beneficial than having it reduced by 20 is problematic, even if both traits were evenly represented by the metagame.  Sadly not much in the way of Type support yet (especially worth using) but the next set may fix that (not that the score will reflect this).  Being a Basic on is simply the best (and has been for many years now) and in this case it isn’t even a Pokémon-EX so the only real drawback to its Stage is Pyroar (XY: Flashfire 20/106).  Yeah… if you forgot that Pyroar exists you might not be alone; it hasn’t done well in competitive play since shortly after it released.  I do encounter it a lot on the PTCGO, so I guess the threat of it in the first round or two of an event might be real (and obviously in casual play). 

120 HP is just 10 shy of the max we have seen for Basic Pokémon that aren’t also Pokémon-EX.  It is enough that surviving an attack is more likely than not though my usual caveats applies; besides being a guesstimate (and not a proper estimate) I’m including the times when your opponent can’t hit hard due to lack of set-up or because their deck simply can’t hit that hard, such as with Seismitoad-EX.  Most decks in full swing will score the OHKO.  This is a Lightning Weak Lightning-Type owing to it being both an Electric-Type and a Flying-Type in the video games: this gives Zapdos a nice niche in general Lightning-Type decks: the majority of available Lightning-Types are Fighting Weak.  Being Lightning Weak is far safer than being Fighting Weak unless the next set really shakes things up (and admittedly, it is trying to).  It isn’t “safe”, but I’d rather worry about Raichu (XY 43/146) than Landorus-EX, Lucario-EX, etc. that threaten to OHKO Fighting Weak Pokémon the first turn they can attack and with a single Energy.  Zapdos is not only not Fighting Weak but is Fighting Resistant; this dramatic shift can catch an opponent off guard or at least burden their thinking (either helps) but in the end Resistance dropping damage by 20 is still a small bonus (just not quite as small this time).  Zapdos has a Retreat Cost of [CC]; again my general impression is that this is average - not the mathematical mean but typical - and while not especially easy to pay or recover from the loss, still plausible most of the time. 

Zapdos isn’t fancy, lacking either an Ability or an Ancient Trait but it does sport two attacks.  For [L] the first attack (Drill Peck) does a simple 20 damage and nothing else.  Jumping up to [LLC] the second attack (Raging Thunder) hits for 120 damage to the opponent’s Active and 40 to one of your own Benched Pokémon.  While not exceptional, these are pretty solid attacks and they are atop a sturdy foundation… plus the names are quite fun to call out.  The damage amounts aren’t stellar, but they are enough to build on and there are plenty of tricks to manage the damage to your own Bench… which may not even need much management, depending upon the matchup (apply it onto something likely to be OHKOed anyway).  I’ll dive more into strategy later, but it looks like this is a Lightning-Type attacker for decks that want one that is a Basic, isn’t a Pokémon-EX, and can afford to provide at least [LL] as part of the attack cost (as opposed to something that only needs a single source of [L] Energy or has all Colorless requirements). 

There is just one other Zapdos available for both Standard and Expanded, though it has two printings: BW: Next Destinies 41/99 and BW: Legendary Treasures 46/113.  Besides the miscellaneous bits the game usually doesn’t care about (art, lore, etc.) the only difference between this older Zapdos and today’s are the attacks: they have the same everything else.  The first attack (Random Spark) requires [LCC] and lets you hit the opponent’s Pokémon of your choice (no Weakness/Resistance for the Bench) for 50 points of damage.  The second attack (Thundering Hurricane) requires [LCCC] and gives you four coin flips, with each “heads” good for 50 points of damage to the opponent’s Active.  Requiring only a single of the Energy requirements be [L] makes the card easier to splash into non-Lightning-Type or multi-Type decks and the Bench hit is appreciated, but the amount of Energy needed for each attack is higher.  Factoring in the different drawbacks/bonuses the damage output is pretty close between the two versions: Random Spark costs about three times as much as Drill Peck but does 2.5 times the damage while also allowing you to hit the Bench while Thundering Hurricane averages 100 damage for four Energy but doesn’t hit anything on your own side.  While these two compete for space, it will only really matter in a deck that has a practical use for both of them in high numbers; they can also compliment each other in the way any two differently named Lightning-Types could (by sharing resources and such). 

So how do you use today’s Zapdos?  You have a few options.  I don’t recommend it, but if you wished to make it your main attacker, you could add in Muscle Band and Silver Bangle (not on the same Zapdos) in addition to Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym to just barely get the damage output you need to OHKO the typical 170 and 180 HP Pokémon-EX that aren’t Lightning Resistant.  Drill Peck can be more useful than it seems, even throughout the whole game: exploiting Weakness or damage buffs to take inexpensive, early game OHKOs or to set-up for or finish a 2HKO.  The format has plenty of non-Pokémon-EX attackers but many decks still seem to “default” to Pokémon-EX for the role, so losing a Zapdos to finish off the work of something else instead of a Pokémon-EX can still lead to a Prize advantage or avoid/lessen a price deficit in an exchange.  Even less recommended is avoiding the Bench damage by having no Bench; instead consider Mr. Mime (BW: Plasma Freeze 47/116) as its Ability (Bench Barrier) would stop the damage.  If you are not using Virbank City Gym (which might make sense in other decks) Mountain Ring can also completely stop the damage while Rough Seas heals all but 10 points of damage… or all of it if whatever was hurt plus the Stadium lasts for two of your turns.  You could also simply damage something that wants to be damaged or where the damage is largely inconsequential (a Bench-sitter that is an all but guaranteed OHKO while Active).  In Expanded Eviolite can help with this. 

The thing is we learned long ago that Ether is not going to cut it for Energy acceleration and everything else I can think of in Standard to help Zapdos bring Raging Thunder online ASAP is going to shift focus.  M Manectric-EX might consider Zapdos so that it has something Fighting Resistant that is not a Pokémon-EX and is on-Type as an alternate attacker.  Aromatisse decks might consider it if they run several Rainbow Energy (or in Expanded Prism Energy) but with no easy way to get lost Special Energy back that seems imprudent.  In Expanded, this is an easy inclusion for Eelektrik (BW: Noble Victories 40/101).  Well, as easy as deck space considerations make it.  I’ve actually toyed around (so I could do the Lightning-Type based Daily Challenges) with an Eelektrik deck that uses all three as co-main attackers and it actually has some merit… not enough that I’d take it to a real world tournament (probably not even a PTCGO tournament), but that I was suitably impressed.  A little more relevant might be plugging this into the Rayeels variant as a spare attacker that doesn’t slam into itself like Zekrom (last released as BW: Legendary Treasures 51/113 and 115/113) does and isn’t flippy like the other Zapdos.  Sometimes you just need something that hits hard but is only worth a single Prize. 

With all that said, the card has some real competition; not the other Zapdos so much but the aforementioned Zekrom and Raichu, perhaps Dedenne (XY: Furious Fists 34/111).  Why?  All of these can hit hard using Colorless attacks.  Unless you are in something like an Eelektrik deck that would make them the obvious choice… though there are conditions required for them to function that well.  Dedenne does damage based on the Energy attached to the opponent’s Active Pokémon (using “Energy Short”), Raichu (via its “Circle Circuit” attack) does the damage based on how many Pokémon are on your Bench while Zekrom is relying on its “Outrage” attack that does more damage based on it being damaged.  Plus all are Fighting Weak and Raichu is an Evolution.  You’re really not going to bother with Zapdos unless you’re already running a source of [L] Energy, and then for the earlier mentioned Fairy Transfer deck, a pair of Thundurus-EX [Plasma] make more sense (exploit Weakness while getting back lost Energy). 

There is also Limited play.  This is a great pull for your typical Pre-Release event; while not easy to work into a multi-Type deck, neither is Zapdos overly difficult.  You won’t have the fancy combos to deal with the damage to your own Bench but you’ll be hitting hard enough that it’ll be a good deal… and you might not have to worry about it at all because you could just avoid having a Bench (in this format Zapdos is much less likely to be OHKOed).  While riskier than i would prefer, you might even go the +39 route, building a deck where the only Basic Pokémon is Zapdos itself.  Drill Peck means you won’t have any “dead” turns though unless your opponent has an unfortunate start it probably won’t score a KO.  If your opponent can’t overwhelm the 120 HP on Zapdos then you’ll probably win by your seventh turn.  I already mentioned this card was in a theme deck and it's pretty amazing there.  Like most real world Theme Decks (the PTCGO only ones are sometimes a little better) there seems to be a lot of questionable inclusions, but for the stuff that makes at least a little sense Zapdos tends to compliment it well.  You even get two copies in the deck (one holo, one not) and the only Pokémon to rival its offensive might in that deck is Dragonite (XY: Roaring Skies 52/108)... which ultimately is more powerful but also requires a lot more resources. 

Ratings 

Standard: 2.5/5 

Expanded: 3/5 

Limited: 4.75/5 

Theme Deck: 4.8/5 

Summary: While this Zapdos is going to have the most impact in Limited play (especially Theme Deck matches such as on the PTCGO), this isn’t filler.  At the risk of sounding crazy it is actually a bit too good for where I think the game needs to go (...only a bit) since if we cut out all the cards I think are too powerful we lose most of the competitive card pool and suddenly my comment only sounds half-insane.  In Standard just needs some Energy acceleration that does not work better with other dance partners but in Expanded I think it has its small but very real niche in Eelektrik decks. 


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