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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Fates Collide

#3 - Zygarde-EX

- Fates Collide

Date Reviewed:
May 18, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 4
Expanded: 4
Limited: 4.5

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

Back to the main COTD Page


aroramage

And now we come to our #3 card on the list, Zygarde-EX!...or should I say "cards" since we're also reviewing Power Memory? Truth be told, the latter only works with the former, so of course it makes sense to review them together. Let's see what they can do together! 

Starting off is Zygarde-EX, and to be honest...he's anywhere from okay to mediocre. I know he's a Fighting-type and gets access to all that sweet sweet support that Fighting types get, not to mention he's a 190 HP Basic-EX which hasn't been seen before, but his attacks are otherwise just so...meh. And he's got three of them on the card! 

Land's Pulse starts us off at 1-for-20, and if there's a Stadium in play, it'll do an extra 20 damage. Already, that's 1-for-40 most of the time, given the frequency of Stadium plays in the current format, so Zygarde-EX will get a lot of mileage out of that. It's a shame though since that seems like the best attack he's got. Cell Storm only does 2-for-60 and will only ever heal off 30 damage from Zygarde-EX - it would have been better if it could heal off half the damage he inflicts, since then it would depend on boosts and changes and what not. And then there's Land's Wrath which is just a vanilla 3-for-100 strike...meh meh meh. 

I was disappointed to see Zygarde-EX with such lackluster attacks, especially in his Complete/Perfect form. But you shouldn't really count Zygarde-EX totally out - it did get Power Memory! This Tool only really attaches to Zygarde-EX and acts like how G Booster did to Genesect-EX from back in the day. It grants him the power to deal out the All Cells Burn attack, which does a tremendous 3-for-200 blow while discarding 3 Energy from Zygarde-EX. It's certainly impressive on its own, but tack on the Fighting damage outputs, and it becomes a OHKO machine!

...well, not on its own. There are a couple more Pokemon that can make Zygarde-EX really shine, and it just so happens that they happen to be our #2 and #1 spots on the countdown! Who'd have thunk that? 

Rating 

Standard: 4/5 (Zygarde-EX may not be exciting on his own, but in tandem with other such cards, he can be a force to reckon with) 

Expanded: 4/5 (already, I can think of putting Fighting Fury Belt on him to make his HP rival the other Mega-EX, though Power Memory is just way too needed to forego that little detail) 

Limited: 4.5/5 (don't fret though, it's not the only thing he's got, and it could be the case that we see a new archetype form from these pieces) 

Arora Notealus:...but seriously though, Zygarde-EX, please, get some better attacks on your next card. Let's see you be amazing, not sorta good but really amazing only with this and this and this card. 

Next Time: Time to BREAK out of this countdown with something really different!

the
grovyle
kid

Zygarde-EX by itself is somewhat average, acting somewhat like a slightly more powerful Lucario-EX. For (F), you do 20 damage, then 20 more if there is a Stadium Card in play. If that stadium is a fighting stadium, you do 20 more damage. If you have a Strong Energy attached to you, you do 20 more damage. For two energy, you do a base of 60 damage and heal 30 of that. With the Fighting Type buffs, you can do large amounts of damage for small amounts of energy. The third attack does 100 damage for (FFC) with no effect, before Fighting type buffs. On its own, Zygarde-EX is fairly straightforward. Without Fighting Support, Zygarde-EX is much below the average for a Pokémon-EX and would definitely not be on this list. With Fighting support, it embodies the trend set by Fighting Types like Landorus-EX and Lucario-EX to do a lot of damage without a lot of energy, but would still be just average. But this set gave us Power Memory, which functions like a slightly weaker G Booster when attached to Zygarde-EX. For (FFC), you do 200 damage and discard 3 energy attached to Zygarde-EX. 200 damage, plus the Fighting-type support from this set, is certainly a lot, though there are a few drawbacks. Firstly, it doesn't go through effects like G Booster does, so things like Jolteon-EX can still wall you. Secondly, discarding 3 energy isn't ideal since it takes an extra turn to power it up, even with accelerators like Carbink BREAK, which is further compounded by Zygarde-EX's three retreat. Zygarde-EX will see play, but ultimately is less useful than the support it came with.
 
I had Zygarde-EX as my ninth place pick.


Otaku

Proving I’m on a roll this week, not only have I already missed some deadlines but when I finally read yesterday’s reviews, as I realized had messed up a few Ability and attack names.  Pretty embarrassing but thankfully Pojo has already posted the corrected article.  At least if you know the cards, you shouldn’t have been confused and just gotten a chuckle out of my mistakes. So with that out of the way, third place on our list is shared by two cards.  It isn’t a tie in the traditional sense, but because the cards in question are so related that reviewing one means effectively reviewing the other, we figured it was once again time to risk reviewing two at once: Zygarde-EX (XY: Fates Collide 54/124; XY: Black Star Promos XY151) and Power Memory (XY: Fates Collide 108/124). 

We’ll start with Zygarde-EX, who is yet another Pokémon resembling a Dragon Ball Z character.  As a Fighting Type it enjoys what I’ve often stated is the best support in the TCG.  About the only major pieces I do not expect to matter at all for Zygarde-EX in competitive play are Machamp (XY: Furious Fists 46/111; XY: Black Star Promos XY13; Generations 42/83) and Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick; the former has been replaced by Regirock-EX (XY: Fates Collide 43/124) and the latter is wasteful for a Basic Pokémon.  The rest of the cards that specifically benefit Fighting Type Pokémon are all going to have a use to varying degrees, as well as some of the other useful Fighting Types which I will not be listing here because I nearly built a deck in doing so: that is how much great, Type related support Fighting provides!  Fighting Weakness is found on the majority of Colorless Types and both most Darkness and most Lightning Types.  It isn’t all good as a few cards specifically counter the Fighting Type and Fighting Resistance is the most common form of Resistance, but even that isn’t as bad as it sounds: those counters are seldom seen because they aren’t particularly good, no Resistance is far more common than any actual form of Resistance, and the -20 damage Resistance provides is more of a nuisance than a serious issue. 

As a Basic Pokémon, Zygarde-EX is fast to the field without taking a lot of deck space, naturally works better with certain effects (like bounce) or game mechanics (like being your opening Pokémon) than other Stages.  There are anti-Basic Pokémon effects but also Basic Stage support; the net result is that being a Basic Pokémon is the best.  Being a Pokémon-EX however is not, though I know a lot of people still think it is.  I’m not denying the influence of Pokémon-EX in the format; perhaps because they are still a special mechanic and thus have fewer examples, the potent ones stick out even more while we forget about the weak ones.  What being a Pokémon-EX does guarantee for an already Basic Pokémon is giving up an extra Prize when KOed (via rules text printed on the card), being subject to certain counters via the effect text on cards already present in the format and/or that may be released in the future, and being excluded from certain beneficial card effects that (again) are either already here or could be released in the future.  Unless a Pokémon-EX includes something unique to itself to help overcome these drawbacks, the best you can do is use other cards to help deal with them.  The improved attributes and effects that Pokémon-EX often possess aren’t guaranteed; arguably the HP as I believe the worst it has done is provide a +20 HP bump for the very small, but some Pokémon-EX wind up with lame Abilities and/or attacks, and many simply have ones that are good but even out given the built in drawbacks of their being. 

Zygarde-EX cashes in on the improved attributes with its 190 HP.  This is not a new thing as we’ve seen it on more obscure Basic Pokémon-EX like Team Aqua’s Kyogre-EX and Team Magma’s Groudon-EX, while Wailord-EX still holds the record for anything in the game with 250.  190 HP is as much as the smallest Mega Evolution - M Diancie-EX - and the largest BREAK Evolution - Chesnaught BREAK.  By being 10 to 20 points above the more typically seen Basic Pokémon-EX, Zygarde-EX gains a disproportionate advantage because efficiency is incredibly important to the Pokémon TCG.  So while multiple decks can still OHKO Zygarde-EX, in general decks focus on scoring a OHKO or a 2HKO against 180 because the previous exceptions haven’t been worth the added effort; overkill can be fun but it when it costs extra resources it hurts the bottom line.  The Type that will probably be able to shoot for a OHKO is the Grass Type, due to Zygarde-EX being Grass Weak.  This might be one of the best Weaknesses for a card of this size to have; while still a significant drawback to have a Weakness at all, the top Grass Type attackers already feature in decks that could still OHKO something with 190 HP.  As such Grass Weakness will allow them to do so a bit more reliably and/or with less effort.  Given the video game Dragon/Ground Typing of Zygarde, Zygarde-EX could have been saddled with Fairy, Dragon or Water (Ice) Weakness. 

The lack of Resistance is typical, but this is one of the rare occasions where I approve of the decision.  As a 190 HP Basic that (as we’ll see) has a damaging attack that heals it, the four plausible TCG Type for it to Resist - Fighting (from Rock Resistance), Fire, Lightning, and Psychic (from Poison) could have created some real problem matchups.  The most likely of those would have been Lightning, and as most of that Type is Fighting Weak and the attack I’m already discussing needs just [FC], several decks could have worked in a “Lightning Rod” to wreck that Type (never mind if Zygarde-EX gets its own deck).  The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is chunky and you want to avoid paying it; pack multiple options to reduce or bypass the cost.  Once again it isn’t all bad: Zygarde-EX can make use of Heavy Ball and Heavy Boots and surprising enough, Heavy Ball compliance may actually matter. 

Zygarde-EX is too new to have an Ancient Trait, and it also lacks an Ability.  What it does have for effects are three attacks (Land’s Pulse, Cell Storm, and Land’s Wrath) priced in an ascending manner ([F], [FC], and [FFC]) that bodes well for the card.  You should be able to open with Land’s Pulse and move onto Cell Storm the next turn.  If you survive long enough or have some acceleration, Land’s Wrath also becomes reasonable to reach.  The Energy requirements have enough [F] that it won’t be an easy splash, but also don’t require so much [F] or have additional costs that would make working it into an off TYpe deck implausible.  So what do these attacks actually do?  Land’s Pulse does 20 damage plus another 20 if there is a Stadium in play.  This is a good start but we have seen better, as Land’s Pulse obviously this pales in comparison to single Energy attacks like “Hammerhead” found on Landorus-EX, but it seems in line with our other big, Basic Pokémon-EX that sports three attacks: Lucario-EX.  Why don’t we start comparing and contrasting these attacks with those of our other three-attack Fighting Type Basic Pokémon-EX? 

Lucario-EX can do 30 for [F] with its “Missile Jab” and while it is hardly a major player in the competitive scene, it is a part of it.  Stadiums are heavily used and even against an opponent who doesn’t use them or actively tries to discard yours (such as with Delinquent) you still are attacking on your turn, when you may supply your own.  The risk of Land’s Pulse whiffing because you have no Stadium in play and are attacking into Resistance is very low and even just doing 20 because of no Stadium is unlikely; instead you ought to outperform Missile Jab most of the time.  The next attack is “Cell Storm” which does 60 damage while healing 30 from Zygarde-EX itself.  This seems mediocre in isolation; 60-for-two is decent but healing effects are rarely worth it.  What helps make it adequate (still not great) are circumstances.  With 190 HP and the possibility of Bursting Balloon, Fighting Fury Belt or Focus Sash, healing 30 also becomes a bit more useful, and the cost again means it could work in a deck that isn’t totally off Type, even if only because of something like Rainbow Energy.  Lucario-EX has “Corkscrew Punch” for its two Energy attack, and does the same 60 damage but with the much more useful effect of drawing until you have six cards in hand.  Corkscrew Punch also requires [FF] though, which makes it unappealing when you need to splash in a Fighting Type with another.  Land’s Wrath does a flat 100 damage which seems a bit anticlimactic, but again we need to consider what all may be going into it.  The Fighting Type specializes in buffs, so by this point it is likely beefed up to OHKO range for Basic Pokémon-EX or 2HKO range against Mega Evolutions.  Lucario-EX needs [FFF] for its “Somersault Kick” to do the same 100, and yes that attack does get used; Zygarde-EX unquestionably out does it here though both of these attacks are the least important of their respective three. 

Now seems like the time to bring in Power Memory; this is a Pokémon-specific Pokémon Tool that provides a fourth attack (All Cells Burn) to Zygarde-EX while it is attached.  All Cells Burn has the same Energy cost as Land’s Wrath but does 200 damage and requires you discard three Energy from Zygarde-EX itself.  As it does not specify Energy card, you can use something like Double Colorless Energy to pay for two-thirds of the cost.  This is the toned down version of G Booster, the Ace Spec Pokémon Tool (and attack) that made Genesect-EX (BW: Plasma Blast 11/101, 97/101) famous and for a time the top deck in competitive play.  The parallels between the two are striking, and really paints Zygarde-EX as a cross between Lucario-EX and this Genesect-EX [Plasma].  Yes it feels odd to specify in that way, but we did get a second, different Genesect-EX in XY: Fates Collide.  Genesect-EX [Plasma] doesn’t have three attacks but a killer Ability (Red Signal) only one attack (Megalo Cannon) printed on it.  Megalo Cannon needs [GGC] to do 100 damage to the opponent’s Active while hitting something on the opponent’s Bench for 20; better than the 100 Land’s Wrath does but just by the Bench damage, and for the same cost adjusted for Type: [GGC].  G Booster has the same cost as Megalo Cannon, like how All Cells Burn has the same cost as Land’s Wrath.  G Booster does 200 damage, like All Cells Burn, but only requires a two Energy discard instead of three and it ignores any damage reducing effects on the Defending Pokémon.  Why stress all this?  It is a huge hint for one of the ways to use Zygarde-EX. 

I can think of four ways to really use Zygarde-EX as the main attacker of a deck.  We’ll start with most obvious: Zygarde-EX using all (or at least most) of the new Fighting Type support along with much of the established Fighting Type support.  This actually bears a resemblance to VirGen decks, especially after Virizion-EX and Genesect-EX [Plasma] were more regularly joined by Deoxys-EX.  Carbink BREAK (XY: Fates Collide 51/124) is a pseudo-Stage 1 Evolution but it stands in for Virizion-EX with Energy acceleration and - depending on whether Carbink (XY: Fates Collide 49/124) or Carbink (XY: Fates Collide 50/124) underneath it, having a useful Ability as well.  Regirock-EX takes on the role of Deoxys-EX but is more important.  That is because unlike Genesect-EX [Plasma], Zygarde-EX has smaller attacks worth using (but which we still want to buff) since All Cells Burn is a little more likely to need a buff than G Booster.  Heavy Ball can substitute for that clutch Plasma Ball, and other cards (Fighting support or more general) will keep filling in where needed for Plasma support or just augmenting the deck in general. 

The second deck uses almost all the same tricks, but with the emphasis significantly shifted.  Optional attackers like Hawlucha (XY: Furious Fists 63/111), Landorus-EX (in Expanded), and Lucario-EX now share the spotlight with Zygarde-EX, giving you four powerhouse FIghting Types with wicked single Energy attacks and all different Weaknesses.  In my experience, one of the dangers of older Landorus-EX decks as well as both past and present Lucario-EX decks has been even with the variety in Weaknesses already present, the decks still needed one more.  Grass Weakness is hardly safe (as I already pointed out) but most of the existing Weaknesses have a nasty problem as competitive decks can double or even triple up on them.  Hitting all four is still possible, but a lot less likely.  Carbink BREAK and the two new Carbink are (likely) still here, but less for the Energy acceleration and more for not being Pokémon-EX (and in the case of Carbink BREAK not being a Basic Pokémon).  With so many potential buffs the single Energy attacks are going to be fierce and a Super Scoop Up can wipe away all damage while preserving all those pieces.  We already know from current Fighting decks that the damage bonuses can stack up fast, leading to relatively fast and easy 2HKOs and quite a few OHKOs as well for Zygarde-EX and company. 

Super Scoop Up is a great lead in to the next archetype being revisited: Fighting Bats.  I’m not sure what the current popular name is but that describes it better than titles like “Landobats” because once again attack duties are being shared pretty equally across the board; the difference is instead of focusing on buffing the damage of the low Energy attacks with our Bench sitters, we’ll fake it with damage counter placement via Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119) and Golbat (XY: Phantom Forces 32/119; Generations 31/83) while spamming AZ, Super Scoop Up, and (in Expanded) Scoop Up Cyclone.  I know from experience that deck space ends up being incredibly tight, but because you have such a wide array of options it can be worth it.  You can decide whether to OHKOs against the Active or set up for multiple KOs by spreading the damage around.  When Water Weakness became too dangerous for Landorus-EX alone, we used Lucario-EX to help… but Psychic Weakness wasn’t much better and Mewtwo-EX (BW: Next Destinies 54/99, 98/99; BW: Black Star Promos BW45; BW: Legendary Treasures 54/113) was commonly splashed into those Water decks anyway.  Hawlucha was only useful if your opponent could shift to a non-Pokémon-EX attacker and Miltank (XY: Flashfire 83/106) required you get a Crobat in play; what we needed was a big, Basic Pokémon (EX or otherwise) with another alternate Weakness and a good, single Energy attack. 

The four and final approach has us come full circle and return to All Cells Burn as the focus; instead of using something to attack while setting up Zygarde-EX on the Bench for the next turn, we look for something that can power it up and still allow it to attack on the current turn.  We shoot for two copies of Bronzong (XY: Phantom Forces 61/119; XY: Black Star Promos XY21) on your Bench to accelerate basic Metal Energy from the discard pile to one of your Benched Pokémon.  Keldeo-EX (in Expanded) or Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough 91/162) with Float Stone to get Zygarde-EX into and out of the Active position turn after turn.  One Benched Smeargle (XY: BREAKthrough 123/162, in case you have forgotten about it) allows you to swap one of your Metal Energy attached to Zygarde-EX for a Fighting Energy (again, both Basic Energy cards).  Attach a second basic Energy card from hand, make sure you’ve got Power Memory handy, and you can thump the opponent for 200 turn after turn with the option of Max Potion to flush away all damage.  Speaking of options, instead of working in other Fighting Type attackers, this build would allows us some additional options.  You’ve got various Metal Types since we are including that Energy, but if we can work in a few more Basic Energy card Types, we could incorporate a wide variety.  I do not think it worth trying to cover all Types, but with just basic Fighting Energy and Metal Energy, Tyrantrum-EX would already fit in (and provide a way to deal with protective effects).  In fact it might be more a matter of Zygarde-EX slipping into existing decks that use this setup for cards like Tyrantrum-EX and Giratina-EX (XY: Ancient Origins 57/98, 93/98); don’t worry about Power Memory but give them another fall back for if Abilities go off line. 

I haven’t even gotten to the many small changes that can have a big impact with these decks.  For example what Stadium do you run?  It might seem obvious at first, but with Land’s Pulse and the current Stadium wars providing an incentive to run several diverse ones, you might need to consider Fighting Stadium, Magnetic Storm, Skyarrow Bridge, Scorched Earth, or Virbank City Gym and maybe even a few even less obvious ones.  I am not claiming all of these decks are strong prospects that will become the top deck in the next few months; I only wish I had the cards to test myself (working on it) or the data from reliable sources to know second hand.  I do expect that they will matter for at least a time, and that something will emerge that uses Zygarde-EX well.  So with Standard and Expanded out of the way, what about Limited?  Zygarde-EX is the kind of Pokémon you can afford to run entirely on its own in Limited play; just include 39 cards that aren’t Basic Pokémon.  You don’t want to miss an Energy attachment, so most of them will just be Basic Fighting Energy cards unless you also pull Strong Energy or Double Colorless Energy (the latter makes sense if you also get a Power Memory).  This is not without risk as there are other Basic Pokémon-EX with which to contend, the few Grass Types in this set actually look good for Limited play, and in general you may just be overwhelmed, but the odds look to be in your favor.  You can also just squeeze it into whatever else you manage for a deck. 

Ratings

Just a reminder, the following scores are an abstract of the overall usefulness and importance of the card in the format.  This includes considering how it interacts with other cards, but not just scoring it for the impact of the overall deck or combo.  Also I will have scores for both cards we covered today, even if most of the review has been focused on Zygarde-EX 

Zygarde-EX 

Standard: 4.25/5 

Expanded: 4/5 

Limited: 5/5 

Power Memory 

Standard: 3.5/5 

Expanded: 3.25/5 

Limited: 1/5 (no Zygarde-EX) or 5/5 (with Zygarde-EX) 

Summary: Zygarde-EX reminds me of the Dragon Ball Z villain “Cell”, and like that character Zygarde-EX draws from a lot of existing cards and the strategies that have let them work well.  Its three attacks aren’t complex but combined with hits Type and HP, create a strong foundation upon which many different decks can be built.  That assumes Zygarde-EX is the deck’s focus; while not super splashable, its own attack costs are reasonable enough to work in mixed company.  Power Memory is weaker than G Booster, but not only is G Booster weaker now than when it was originally released, Power Memory is just a regular Pokémon Tool and not an Ace Spec, so it may be the better card.  Power Memory needs Zygarde-EX but Zygarde-EX can work without Power Memory, especially if you’re slapping on various damage buffs.  Power Memory allows Zygarde-EX to effectively outsource a fancier attack, and much like when a Transformers toy can externalize a gimmick, this is a good thing. 

Again, you can tell I think highly of this card; for my own Top 10 list I ranked it in third place!  For the group list, Zygarde-EX managed to score 30 voting points; two above our fourth and fifth place finishers, and two below tomorrow's runner up.


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