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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 Zebstrika

- XY BREAKpoint

Date Reviewed:
March 15, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.25
Expanded: 2.13
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

Man, what could be said about Zebstrika? Personally, I think this is one of the best Electric-types in recent years, and I think it oughta have a spot in most Electric decks that can run this Stage 1! 

Alright, so Electric's not been a prominent deck as of late, but I think Zebstrika's still great to play with it! His attack isn't terribly noteworthy though; Crashing Bolt does 2-for-50 with the chance to do 60 more damage on anything with a Fighting Resistance. The only thing with that is that anything with a Fighting Resistance is usually also weak to Electric, so technically Zebstrika's dealing out 220 damage to anything that has a Fighting Resistance! I mean, unless it's the new Ho-oh-EX, but outside of that, Zebstrika's not really going to be your go-to Electric offense - besides, not every Pokemon with an Electric Weakness has a Fighting Resistance. 

So what's the appeal in Zebstrika then? Probably his Ability, which is one of the best Abilities you could have. Zap Zone is what gives your Electric-types the Ability to get past "Safeguard" Pokemon - Suicune, Sigilyph, Regice, you get the idea, anything that could protect itself from your attack. Because Zap Zone lets you ignore any effects on the opponent's Active Pokemon, as far as dealing damage to them goes. Sure they won't be affected by your effects, but when was the last time you saw an Electric-type Pokemon dealing Poison Status as part of their effect? 

...note to self: would love to see Electric/Poison type using Poison moves to Poison... 

Anywho, Zebstrika can be great for Electric decks looking to break into the mold of the new stuff and keep their damage flowing regardless! He's a fairly strong option, it's just unfortunate that Electric decks haven't been prevalent as of late. But maybe if we get something big... 

Rating 

Standard: 3/5 (Zap Zone is the biggest reason to run a Zebstrika line-up in your Electric deck - no more getting stalled out by Resistance Blizzard and the like!)

Expanded: 2.5/5 (though you will have to watch out for Garbodor seeing play, as well as Wobbuffet - they'll shut his Ability down until they're dealt with) 

Limited: 4/5 (give him a run, and he might make a run with your money!) 

Arora Notealus: Electric Zebra is Best Zebra. Otherwise known as "EZBZ"!! 

Next Time: And now for a little dangerous Item...


Otaku

Our second subject this week is Zebstrika (XY: BREAKpoint 49/122).  It is a Lightning-Type, allowing it to exploit Weakness when facing popular cards like Yveltal-EX and Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108).  There are some Type-based support cards like Flash Energy and… um… Rough Seas which is shared with the Water-Type?  At least the cards with anti-Lightning-Type effects are also few and not very good: in fact all I can find with a quick search is M Rayquaza-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 61/108), with its Ancient Trait that reduces by 20 the damage done from the attacks of your opponent’s Fire, Grass, Lightning and Water-Type Pokémon.  Lightning Resistance seems to have been phased out of the XY-era card templates, though you’ll find it on some of the BW-era Fighting-Types; annoying but not a huge issue in and of itself.  The Type does have a few notable members, with the ones relevant to the rest being Elektrik (BW: Noble Victories 40/101) and Magnezone (XY: BREAKthrough 54/162), both of which can accelerate Lightning-Type Energy, Eelektrik only in Expanded and from the discard, Magnezone in either Standard or Expanded and from the hand.  Exploiting Weakness is probably the Type’s strongest feature, and enough that I still consider is average-to-good. 

Being a Stage 1 is not good, but it isn’t particularly bad, especially compared to everything other than Basic Pokémon.  You’ll need at least two cards to get Zebstrika into play (itself plus a Blitzle), and if you don’t want to take two turns then you’ll also need a third card (Wally).  Slow and space consuming compared to Basic Pokémon but no Spirit Link cards, no Rare Candy, no Archie’s Ace in the Hole or Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, etc. required.  Zebstrika has 100 HP, which isn’t large enough to survive a hit unless the opponent has a lackluster set-up or has a deck not focused on dealing damage (such as some lock decks).  Said Weakness will fall to all but the worst openings against competitive Fighting-Type decks; just 50 damage gets doubled into the needed 100 damage for a OHKO.  Metal Resistance won’t make a huge difference, but it is far better than nothing and sometimes an effective 120 HP will matter.  The Retreat Cost of [C] is good and low; easy to pay for and to recover from having paid. 

Zebstrika has one Ability and one attack.  The Ability is “Zap Zone”, which causes the damage from attacks by your Lightning-Type Pokémon to be unaffected by effects on your opponent’s Active Pokémon.  This can be amazing when it allows your attacker to get through strong protection like Safeguard, to a small bonus when trying to attack Landorus-EX, to unneeded because are no such effects, to backfiring if you face one of the handful of Pokémon that place a damage boosting effect on themselves.  That last one shouldn’t matter in competitive play, but the most likely of the remaining three is that Zap Zone won’t have anything to negate.  It is important to remember that Weakness and Resistance are not effects, but game mechanics, so they should apply as normal.  If your opponent is using a card like Altaria (XY: Roaring Skies 74/108; XY: Black Star Promos BW46) I… am not sure what happens.  At a glance I assumed this was where you would really want Zebstrika but reading the actual card text, Zap Zone only prevents damage from being directly manipulated by effects on the opponent’s Pokémon.  Altaria has the Ability “Clear Humming” that doesn’t alter damage, it causes Colorless Pokémon to simply have no Weakness.  At least Zap Zone should still punch through protection such as is provided by “Flash Ray” on Jolteon-EX! 

For attacks, Zebstrika has “Crashing Bolt” at a cost of [CC].  This cost is efficient enough that a Double Colorless Energy covers it, can many other forms of Energy acceleration.  So what does Crashing Bolt do?  It hits for 50 damage, and if the opponent’s Active has Fighting Resistance, it hits for another 60 damage.  50-for-two is pretty solid and the effect is better than it sounds; 110 for two is great, plus most Fighting Resistance Pokémon are Lightning Weak so it would actually jump to 220!  This doesn’t just OHKO but overkills Yveltal-EX and Shaymin-EX (the former by a little and the latter by a lot).  So what is the catch?  Well the good news is that the two things this card can do can give it a purpose in Lightning-Type decks (the Ability) or decks that need a Lightning-Type splashed in (the attack).  A deck isn’t likely to need both though; Zap Zone is already niché, but in a way so is Crashing Bolt; in your typical Lightning-Type deck you aren’t too likely to need a Lightning-Type Stage 1 attacker that can punish Fighting Resistant Pokémon.  Thanks to most of those Pokémon being Lightning Weak as well, just about any and every serious Lightning-Type attacker can already do it!  So instead of covering two uses that have a decent overlap, we still just have that one use. 

Of course, we need to consider the rest of the card pool; the right dance partner can do wonders, be it among the lower Stages of a card, alternate versions, additional Evolved forms or even branched Evolution lines.  Zebstrika keeps it somewhat simple; there is just Blitzle and Zebstrika, with nothing else.  There are quite a few of these with seven Blitzle - Black & White 40/114, Black & White 41/114, McDonald’s Collection 2011 6/12, BW: Noble Victories 35/101, BW: Next Destinies 47/99, BW: Boundaries Crossed 56/149 and XY: BREAKpoint 48/122 - and six Zebstrika - Black & White 42/114, Black & White 43/114, BW: Noble Victories 36/101, BW: Next Destinies 48/99, BW: Boundaries Crossed 57/149 and XY: BREAKpoint 49/122 - including today’s version!  Though they are a homogenous lot, there are no reprints among them: all are Lightning-Type Pokémon with Fighting Weakness and no Ancient Traits.  Blitzle (XY: BREAKpoint 48/122) and today’s Zebstrika (XY: BREAKpoint 49/122) are the only Standard legal options, and also the only versions with Resistance (in this case, to Metal); all others are Expanded only options and have no Resistance at all.  All Blitzle and Zebstrika are Lightning Types with Fighting Weakness and no Ancient Trait.  All Blitzle are Basic Pokémon with Retreat Cost [C], no Ability and a single attack, and all but one have 60 HP (BW: Boundaries Crossed 56/149 has 70).  For the Zebstrika, all have 90 HP other than BW: Boundaries Crossed 57/149 and XY: BREAKpoint 49/122 (they each have 100 HP), no Ability except for XY: BREAKpoint 49/122 (today’s version), and a Retreat Cost of [C] except for BW: Next Destinies 48/99 (which has a perfect free Retreat Cost). 

Black & White 40/114 can use “Rear Kick” at a cost of [LC] to hit for 20 damage.  Black & White 41/114 can use “Stomp” for [C] to do 10 damage and flip a coin; “heads” means it does an extra 10 damage while “tails” means just the base 10.   McDonald’s Collection 2011 6/12 can make use of “Quick Attack” for [LC] to do 10 damage, plus an extra 20 if the coin flip is “heads” (“tails” just does the base 10 damage).  BW: Noble Victories 35/101 has “Ability” priced as [L]; it does 10 damage and has its traditional effect of preventing all damage and effects of attacks by your opponent’s Pokémon during your opponent’s next turn, provided you get “heads” on the coin flip (again, “tails” just does the base 10 damage).  BW: Next Destinies 47/99 calls upon “Thunder Jolt”, which costs [LC] and hits for 30 damage, but requires a coin flip; “tails” means it does 10 damage to itself in addition to hitting the opponent’s Active for 30, while “heads” means the attack just does the 30 to the opponent’s Active.  BW: Boundaries Crossed 56/149 keeps it simple with “Smash Kick” for [C], doing 10 damage.  XY: BREAKpoint 48/122 has “Reckless Charge” which also only requires [C], but does 20 damage to the opponent’s Active and 10 to itself.  Blitzle is here to Evolve and not attack, so in Expanded (where you have a choice) I would go with either BW: Noble Victories 35/101 as Agility may help keep it alive to Evolve or BW: Boundaries Crossed 56/149 so that its 70 HP may also give it a slight boost in trying to survive. 

Moving onto the Zebstrika, Black & White 42/114 brings back Stomp, this time requiring [CC] and doing 20 on “tails”, 40 on “heads”.  [LLC] pays for its “Wild Charge”, which does 70 damage to the opponent’s Active and 10 to itself.  It was reviewed here and all I can add is that it is even less worth it in Expanded now than it was for the current Modified (Standard) format back then.  Black & White 43/114 also brings back an attack from a Blitzle, with its Rear Kick still costing [C] but now hitting for 30, while its second attack is “Electrispark” that costs [LLL] and hits for 70 to the opponent’s Active and 10 to the opponent’s Bench.  This was actually the first Zebstrika reviewed on Pojo (here) and again, we pretty much got it right.  Just lower the score from back then as this card is now nearly six years of power creep behind, like its set-mate.  BW: Noble Victories 36/101 did not get a past review; it continues the trend of recycling as it opens with Quick Attack to do 10 (+20 on “heads”), but this time it only costs [C].  Its second attack is “Shock Bolt” which requires [LLC] to hit for 90, plus requires a coin flip where “heads” means the attack works as normal but where “tails” means you still do the damage but also have to discard all [L] Energy attached to itself.  In a sense, the review team is three for three because not reviewing this card was probably doing it a kindness as it was bad back then, and it is bad now. 

BW: Next Destinies 48/99 knows “Disconnect” for [LC] and “Lightning Crash” for [LLC]; the first hits for 40 while blocking your opponent from playing Item cards from his or her hand, while the second does 80 to the opposing Pokémon of your choice, but you have to discard all [L] Energy attached to Zebstrika (or whatever used Lightning Crash in the case of attack copying).  In one sense this card is better than it once was as Item is even more crucial, while a Wide Lens would allow Lightning Crash to take out a Shaymin-EX in one shot… but we have better means of blocking Items or hitting the Bench.  This Zebstrika was reviewed here and from what I remember while it had a deck that even saw a little success, but overall being a disappointment as it never seemed to do as well as it ought to do, so while the scores are only a little above average, they are also a little above what it probably deserved back then… and like I said now we can do what made it special, and do it better, with other cards.  BW: Boundaries Crossed 57/149 was the last Zebstrika released and reviewed (here), where it was most noteworthy for its first attack (Flame Charge) which required [C] and had you search your deck for an [R] Energy to attach Zebstrika itself.  Apparently this is a video game attack reference but not one that the TCG ever gave a means to really make worthwhile.  The second attack (Thunder) needs [LCC] so I guess it would have given a partial to mostly Fire Energy based deck a Lightning-Type Stage 1 attacker.  Unfortunately Thunder just does 90 damage, with a coin flip to see if it also hits itself for 30 (“heads” means no self-damage).  The reviews for it are pretty much spot on. 

So looks like there is no major boost from Blitzle options, and at best you might consider also working in BW: Next Destinies 48/99 if you had room and were already running today’s Zebstrika because extra Item denial is extra Item denial.  I do not think you really ought to be running today’s version, though.  For the most part, having a Stage 1 Lightning-Type attacker leaves very few protective effects to punch through, with solid Lysandre or even Hex Maniac usage tackling those problems (and providing other advantages).  We even have one that is likely to at least match and most of the time surpass Zebstrika in damage output, yes even for the same Energy cost: Raichu (XY 43/146; Generations 27/83, RC9/RC32).  As I just listed, it was even re-released twice in the latest set; while Generations isn’t the easiest set to buy given how it is being distributed, the supply of Raichu has gone up and you can even choose between “serious battler” and “Aren’t I just so pretty?” Artwork!  I recommend going for the sub-set’s version as whether because they like the art or just find it weird to have a Raichu staring at them and winking, you’ll get all of the usual benefits and some level of distraction.  No, really; it won’t work all the time and I did say it to be funny, but it is also true.  Anyway, thanks to “Circle Circuit” this Raichu has and at least until Sky Field rotates out (but possibly still afterwards) it will continue to shock and awe with its big, affordable hits.  Which means the niché for Zebstrika grows smaller and smaller. 

Ah, but what about Zebstrika BREAK?  It… does not exist.  It is not planned to exist, either.  So Zebstrika seems like an overly specialized tool to do something a more general Stage 1 does better, at least in Standard and Expanded.  In Limited, as is often the case, things change.  Its Ability may or may not come in handy for something other than itself, or at all, as your opponent’s attack selection is going to seem kind of random because this is Limited; the most commonly seen example of the Limited Format is the Pre-Release, where you get six booster packs (plus up to 39 Basic Energy cards) to build a 40 card deck, and because the decks are smaller you play with four Prizes instead of six.  Big Basic Pokémon and complete Evolution lines are often a luxury (sometimes a Luxray) and because you are working with whatever you got, decks are rarely monotype but instead consist of at least two Energy Types (and without the usual tricks that makes it common in constructed formats).  So long story short, a 100 HP Stage 1 that can attack using any Energy and (thanks to its own Ability) can’t have its damage reduced is a good pull, even when just hitting for the base 50 damage. 

Ratings 

Standard: 1.75/5 

Expanded: 1.75/5 

Limited: 3.5/5 

Summary: Please note that if I am totally wrong about how Zap Zone interacts with Clear Humming, then the Standard and Expanded scores should jump a quarter point each.  Even with that, though, this seems like someone tried to combine two specializations and instead of giving the card broader usage, like how Keldeo-EX is used for its Ability or attack or both, here it will be one or the other and rarely the two together because it will be redundant.  You have Raichu for your Stage 1 Lightning-Type attacker that can be splashed into almost anything, and if the deck demands a small Bench then would you even have room for Zebstrika? 

As you can tell, Zebstrika didn’t make my list, but it did make the site’s Top 12 as the number 12 pick.  In terms of voting points, it had 10 which tied Slowking (XY: BREAKpoint 21/122) and was only one point away from tying our 9th and 10th place subjects, though also only one point away from being tied by our 13th place pick, Trevenant BREAK.  I haven’t heard of this doing well in current competitive play but then again, it only became legal for competitive play during the last weekend of the 2016 Winter Regionals.  I also have noticed this card making a few Top X lists on other sites, so maybe I just missed something?


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