pokebeach.comIn the wake of Zekrom winning the Canadian Nationals, I got to thinking about the number of people who would be deciding to use Zekrom for the US Nationals. Before I begin, this is going to be a bit rough because I don’t have the two weeks or more that I normally take on articles. I basically have one day.
Lucky for us all, I already have a Zekrom decklist put together and had been toying with the idea of posting it a while back. The intent of this article is to get a solid decklist with techs out to those who are not UG subscribers.
A quick search on Pokégym and SixPrizes showed that most of the lists out there are terrible. While I don’t think that Zekrom will end up doing extremely well in US Nationals, I have been proven wrong already by the winner of the Canadian Nationals.
Adam sent out a snippet of PokémonDan’s Underground article, including his ZPS list on Tuesday afternoon and it’s a decent one, but it’s clear he doesn’t like the deck much.
This one is quite a bit lighter and with some smart playing, can last at least through the mid game. Unfortunately, this deck will probably lose if there is an end game, but it can still squeak out a victory.
|Pokémon – 12||Trainers – 21||Energy – 13
Free Slots – 15
pokebeach.comThis list leaves quite a bit of space for options. I’ve decided to take several cards that are not key to the operation of the deck so you can decide what would work best for your specific play style. I’m not going to the through every card in the list because I feel that clutters the article with somewhat obvious information. We will review some general build strategy though.
The combo that makes up this deck is Zekrom as the main attacker with Pachirisu using Self-Generation to get two lightning energy onto the field quickly and Shaymin’s Celebration Wind to move it to Zekrom. Bolt Strike is Zekrom’s second attack and for two Lightning and one Colorless deals 120 damage with 40 recoiling back to Zekrom. The potential for 120 damage turn one is very exciting and the reason this deck received so much hype.
There are several things that could be changed between this skeleton and a final list. One that I’ve gone back and forth on several times is how many Pachirisu and Shaymin to run. Personally, I’ve decided that two each is the best number.
Occasionally, one will be prized but the chances of both being prized are minuscule. It feels more sleek and fluid when running two each. With three, I found they were a dead-draw more often than not.
Another thing that is commonly debated is what babies to run. Personally, I like running three Cleffa for consistent searchable draw and one Tyrogue to donk solo babies and assist in the mirror. Four of them for consistent starts of either Zekrom or a baby. Your ideal start is Cleffa in the active slot and Zekrom on the bench.
If you can pull off the T1 Bolt Strike, Cleffa retreats for free to let Zekrom start destroying stuff. If you can’t manage to get the combo, Eeeeeeek will refresh you hand and hopefully let you start attacking T2. I’ve seen Elekid suggested in ZPS and it’s definitely an interesting play, but since Zekrom doesn’t snipe by itself, Tyroguecan fill the slot of attacking wall without a problem.
One of the most important parts of a deck is getting the ratios of trainers correct. Because of the way this deck plays, you really want to limit the number of Supporters you play. I’ve found that this deck needs at least six Supporters for draw but I prefer to fit in seven.
And then there’s the debate between Collector and Dual Ball. This deck can setup with one Collector, but if you don’t have two Lightning energy in hand, it stalls. Three Collector and two Dual Ball seems to be the best ratio to get what you need but still have the option to play a draw Supporter.
I also decided to go with Super Scoop Up instead of Seeker because of a couple of reasons. First, being able to Scoop the active has won matches for me. It’s able to pick up a sleeping baby or Shaymin that got stuck there.
Second, there’s almost always a target for SSU on your bench if you need to burn it before using Juniper. The last and most important reason I picked it instead of Seeker is that Super Scoop Up can be targeted and reused by Junk Arm. That alone is worth not using Seeker.
There are lots of free slots with this list and several different options that can help this deck in different situations. These are the cards that I suggest using. How many of each you can fit depends on what techs you decide on.
PlusPower – Including this helps to hit for 130 or 140 which are the “magic numbers” in the current format. Without it, you will miss some crucial KOs or have to rely on setting up with Tyrogue. The only problem with PlusPower is that it’s a double-edged sword since it increases the recoil Zekrom does to itself.
Defender – This is probably the most helpful of the optional additions. As soon as I saw the errata I thought of Zekrom and how wonderfully it works with ZPS. Since it prevents damage to Zekrom by Zekrom as well as from the opponent, one Defender will force a mirror or Donphan to play a PlusPower to get the KO.
It’s much better then just handing them a 90 HP Pokémon ripe for the revenge KOing. It’s actually one of the most common targets with Junk Arm.
Pokémon Reversal/Circulator – I’ve been running two Reversal and one Circulator for the past few weeks just for diversity. Both are useful in their own unique situation. Reversal when you want to kill that particular setup Pokémon against a Stage 2 deck. Circulator when you’re needing to move that baby.
Unown UD + Dark Energy – This is one of those techs that leaves you scratching your head, but can make all the difference when it comes to getting a Bolt Strike off on T1. Instead of needing three Lightning Energy and a Collector, you only need two.
Granted, you need to have either Zekrom on the field or Shaymin, Pachirisu or Dual Ball in your hand, but that’s actually easier to get then 3 Lightning Energy. It can also help late game if you need to pull off the combo again and can’t get that one extra energy that turn. It’s way more versatile then I originally gave it credit.
One thing that I’ve seen played and is great in theory is Victory Medal. It used to be a staple in donk decks, but now Victory Medal just seems to clutter the deck.
One small note is that if you use an evolution as a tech, you would need to fit Pokémon Communication into the deck. In the skeleton list there are no evolutions, therefore I didn’t include any way to search for them.
Yanmega + Judge – This is perhaps the most popular tech in Zekrom builds. It helps with the end game as well as against fighting types. While I’m not a huge fan, you can’t dismiss the strength of being able to snipe babies and setting up KOs.
I prefer Judge to Copycat because if they have a hand of six or more cards, taking them down to four can be extremely disruptive. Plus, when played well, it’s possible to play your hand down from a PONT rather than just start with four or five cards from a Copycat. One often overlooked benefit of running Yanmega is having more free retreat which is rare in the format.
Samurott – I’ve seen a few lists that suggest adding a line of Samurott as a counter to Donphan and Fire types. Using only C energy, Samurott can 1HKO Donphan and only needs a PlusPower to do the same to Emboar.
Plus you don’t have to add energy acceleration because it’d use the same method as Zekrom does. I’m not sure how much consistency gets hit with this tech, but it should theoretically improve those matchups.
Magnezone – I haven’t seen this suggested as much, but in theory this would work marvelously. It uses the same energy and acceleration and would increase your draw power tremendously. The fact that it can 1HKO anything with enough energy is appealing as well. I really don’t know how many resources you’d need to commit to something like this, but the theorymon says it would work!
Ruins of Alph – Against Donphan, this is like two PlusPower in one. Against almost every other deck, it becomes Fodder. If straight Donphan worries you too much, I suggest running one, but there are other options that seem to work in more situations.
Double Colorless Energy – While it may seem like an absurd energy to put into the deck, one DCE can power up Outrage. If you drop one on a damaged Zekrom then use Shaymin to move the rest of the Lightning energy off of your active, you can swing and sacrifice without having to do much setup for another.
Black Belt – This is one tech that I haven’t personally tried yet but can swing a late game loss into a win. It’s an amazing tech in other decks and it could be the easiest way to counter Donphan while boosting consistency.
It doesn’t boost the recoil damage and turns your 120 hits into 160 hits if you’re losing. That extra makes everything in format a 1HKO. The only problem that I could see with using Black Belt is that Zekrom usually gets the prize lead early and it takes a savvy player to lose that lead, but not lose the momentum needed to finish the game and win.
vs Reshiboar/Mirror – Even
The inclusion of Defender will improve the Reshiboar and the mirror matchup quite a bit. PlusPower is another key component that will help win this match. The biggest thing to watch out for against Reshiboar is that you don’t overextend at the beginning of the game to get a KO. This match will be won with smart playing and perseverance.
vs Magneboar – Slightly Unfavorable
I always had issues with this matchup. If you can’t get the donk early or seeker donk later on, it’s just going to be an uphill battle. Pokémon Reversal can definitely help but only if the coin likes you. Catcher will improve this matchup as well as against most other Stage 2 decks. If you can KO an Emboar or Magnezone (or pre-evolutions thereof) the game is likely to shift in your favor.
vs Yanmega Variants – Slightly Favorable to Very Favorable
The could be an easy matchup but if Yanmega is played correctly Judge and hand control will hurt a lot. Playing DCE and managing your bench can make this matchup a sure thing. Since Yanmega is unable to 1HKO Zekrom, you should be able to get a KO every turn. Some variants will be a little bit more difficult, but Kingdra/Yanmega is very close to an auto-win as long as you keep the babies in your hand.
vs Donphan Variants – Very Unfavorable to Even
Straight Donphan is pretty close to an auto-loss but thankfully, not many people are playing just Donphan. Most of them will play DonChamp, Samurott/Donphan, or something similar. If it’s straight Donphan, you will have an uphill battle on your hands. Usually you’d need to KO at least three Donphan to secure victory.
If you Bolt Strike once, even with one Defender, you’re within 1HKO range. On top of that, Donphan effectively has 160 HP to 1HKO and 200 if you have to attack twice. That is a lot of HP to get through! A deck that’s Donphan with something else will be an easier matchup because they won’t be putting resources purely into Donphan. And anything is easier to KO then Donphan!
vs LostGar Variants – Slightly Favorable
I haven’t seen many of these running around, but the ones that I have seen are usually reasonably slow. There are some variants out there that are good, but they usually rely on being able to KO evolutions or force evolutions to be picked up by Seeker thereby putting multiple Pokémon into the Lost Zone at once.
It’s still going to be a challenge because it takes a PlusPower to KO a Gengar, but as long as you can get setup quickly and not burn too many resources, you should be good.
vs Blastoise Variants – Very Favorable
As with almost anything water right now, Zekrom’s matchup against Blastoise is good. Everything in BlastZel is a 1HKO without anything added. BlastGatr has Feraligatr, which won’t usually get one shot, but it still takes three hits from Hydro Crunch to KO a Zekrom with full HP.
Once again, you must be careful in this matchup not to over extend to get a KO because Blastoise can 1HKO almost anything on your bench and you’ll have several Bench-sitters waiting to be Knocked Out.
vs Anything with Vileplume – Slightly Unfavorable to Slightly Favorable
This isn’t really so much of a matchup as a bit on how you need to play against Vileplume. If your opponent manages to get Vileplume out, much of your deck will be useless. You’ll usually have at least two turns with which to get rolling and depending on what’s played with Vileplume, that could be enough.
But not being able to play Defender or Reversal really hurts Zekrom. The key to this is burn through as much as you can to get a Zekrom Bolt Striking with another Zekrom powering up on the bench and attempt to get that Oddish or Gloom Knocked Out before it becomes a big problem.
Overall, I think that Zekrom is a good deck just a bit before its time. With the next few sets, I think that it will definitely become a tier one deck, though it has proven to be competitive currently. In my opinion, unless you hit hard and fast, Zekrom will eventually get out lasted by most decks. The biggest challenge that Zekrom faces is the sheer amount of damage dealt to itself by the recoil from Bolt Strike. There are things that can be used to alleviate that damage, but it’s still quite an obstacle.
Sorry this is so short, but hopefully I’ve given enough information to get you rolling with Zekrom. Good luck at Nationals!