Just My Type – Linking with Lightning

pokebeach.comHi there, welcome to the fourth Just My Type. This time, we’re going to talk about Lightning, the type that has been ruining many, many Pokémon’s chances of ever doing well due to being prolific for so long. Luxray GL was present in many a deck in and became half of the BDIF in MD-on.

When it was finally rotated and birds and fishes breathed a common sigh of relief, a certain creepy UFO stood up and immediately took ’s seat, and looked to remain there for quite a while.

I was looking over the cards that are part of this interesting type and noticed there were more interesting ones than I thought. However, there’s also quite a bit of overlap in this one with last few articles. Several Pokémon have been passed over in previous analyses one way or another.

That’s not a problem though, there is plenty of things left to say, both on some previously mentioned cards and on the several new ones. Rest assured, I will be bringing up new material and avoid repeating myself as much as feasible.

Set-up Pokémon

I’m not even going to put a neat little title for the Lightning starter options here, because there’s only a few of them and they deserve so little time in the spotlight they’re just not worth glorifying them any more than this sentence is already doing for them.

Plusle and Minun form a cute couple and seem to be designed to help new players set up their Lightning deck. Plusle’s “Collect” allows you to draw 2 cards for the cost of C, which is boring and inferior to Cleffa, Manaphy, and Relicanth. I can’t help but feel that Plusle is Supporter Bill in Basic form.

Minun has a standard Call for Family attack: for just C, you get to search your deck for two Basic Pokémon and put them on your Bench. It’s exactly the same as Stantler, except Stantler has 70 HP to Minun’s 60, and Minun’s other attack is slightly better.

For L, TAG TEAM Boost does 30 damage if Plusle is in play, 10 if not. Theoretically, this could allow you to kill a (hopefully lonesome) baby. However, chances are that if you are able to get out Plusle and Minun in addition to the Energy needed to use this attack, you could also just search out Tyrogue to do the same.

Minun has the advantage of being able to donk things weak to Lightning, such as Yanma, but overall it is an inferior starter option when you can just max out on Pokémon Collector to fill your Bench and use your attack for damaging or hand refreshing instead.

I can say almost the same for Pichu. Pichu has the well-known Baby traits we all love and hate, and there’s been several articles on both Pichu and Babies in general, so I won’t go in depth on those. “Playground” is Pichu’s trademark attack, allowing both players to fill their Bench as much as they like with Basics found in their deck. In general, I believe helping your opponent set up is a bad idea even if your own board is looking terrible.

Unless you use this attack on turn 1 when you go first, your opponent will be able to evolve his Pokémon before you can. In addition, you could be helping your opponent out of a bad start. Even if they already had cards needed to set up, they can now simply use their Collectors as discard fodder, and focus their Supporters on hand refresh, straight draw or searching out evolutions.

pokebeach.comThe only use I see in this that a nice amount of Collectors and Dual Balls cannot imitate is tempting your opponent to fill their Bench for a Jumpluff deck, but this novelty wears off if your opponent is aware what deck you are playing, which they often are (mulligans, best out of three, reputation, etc.). Remember that they do not necessarily have to fill their Bench.

If you want a Pikachu clone to set up with, I recommend you look into the best one we have currently: Pachirisu. Whenever you drop a Pachirisu on your Bench, “Self-Generation” allows you to attach 2 Lightning from your hand to it. I think most of you know what decks this thing generally slides into, so I will just speak in general terms about this thing’s uses here.

Pachirisu is best used in decks where you have a way to use that Energy on it. This can be done by moving it around, but I will also discuss a few other ways when we get to the cards that use this little bugger. For now, I will just note that Pachirisu’s “Shocking Bolt” attack is decent for donks and desperate situations where you really want to deal a relatively huge burst of damage for a small cost.

I’m really confused why they keep introducing cards with this much donking power…it’s as if Sableye didn’t teach them anything.

One of my favourite Lightning set-up Pokémon is Electrode Prime, but that is probably because I am slightly sadistic. His stats and attack are nothing to write home about, but his Pokémon Power is at the very least fun to speculate about. Lightning Pokémon in general are known for having slightly suicidal attacks, usually involving recoil damage or flushing away Energy.

Every bit of flavour concerning Electrode is about him blowing up for little to no reason. “Energymite” is no different: no matter what exactly you end up doing with it, it will Knock Out Electrode and give your opponent a prize. In return, you get to look at the seven cards on top of your deck. Any Energy you find can be attached to your Pokémon in any way you like, and everything else you find there is going into the discard pile.

pokebeach.comThe fact that this card has not one but three serious drawbacks (free prize for them, chance of not helping you at all, and pretty much always discarding cards you didn’t want to) should you off that this isn’t a serious option for any deck that wants to do well in a tournament setting.

However, the fact that it does so many things at once (as well as its uniqueness) makes me believe it should at least be discussed at a little more length than, say, the Pikachu clones.

First off, Electrode is guaranteed to give your opponent a prize, instantly activating the two come-from-behind Supporters we have in the format: Twins and Black Belt. This means you can use Electrode as a long term investment, sacrificing a prize and some set-up (getting out Electrode to begin with) for a better hand and/or board position.

Unfortunately for Electrode, there are several other ways to get behind easily, such as feeding your opponent one of your Cleffa.

In addition, you effectively kicked the ball into your own goal by using the Power, so you have to outplay your opponent by a significant amount to come back. An even prize trade is no longer acceptable for you: your opponent has to whiff, and you have to kill at every opportunity. This is a difficult mountain to climb compared to last format, because of the enormous increase of attacking power and 1HKOs.

Last format, damaging attacks were generally cheap, flexible and fast, but not that strong: Garchomp C LV.X did 80, Luxray GL LV.X did 60 or 70, Gyarados did 90, ’s Shadow Room did 60 (and it’s hard to get Poltergeist to do more than 90 against a skilled player), and so on. There were exceptions, obviously, but let’s compare it to now.

Reshiram does 120. Magnezone does infinite (he was good last format too, but that was nothing compared to his status right now), Machamp Prime does 100-150 (same principle applies), RDL and Attack Emboar do 150, etc. There’s some cheap and efficient Pokémon in this format too (such as Cincinno, Donphan, and Yanmega), but they don’t hurt my point: it’s too hard to set up a Pokémon with Electrode that can go through enough of your opponent’s with it being worthwhile.

pokebeach.comTo hurt the concept even more, the best users of Electrode’s explosive Energy acceleration either already have better partners to work with (Magnezone, Reshiram, RDL), or are rendered obsolete by the top-decks currently existing (Steelix, Scizor).

If there’s one Pokémon that I feel qualifies for a good dose of Energymite, I believe it to be Tyranitar Prime. He is a great abuser of all kinds of non-Basic Energy (special Dark, Double Colorless, perhaps even Rescue), and the enormous amount of damage he can soak up and dish out makes him the most likely candidate of them all to catch up to your opponent’s prize lead.

Tyranitar has 160 HP, and its “Megaton Tail” attack does a minimum of 120 damage (more with special Dark), enough to duke it out with the toughest contenders one on one if you can get it out. It also has two other dangerous attacks in “Darkness Howl”, a straight 20 spread across the board (other than other Dark Pokémon) and “Power Claw”, a 60 attack that pierces anything that would reduce its damage.

Both of these attacks allow Tyranitar to eat multiple Baby Pokémon alive, at once if he has to.

Tyranitar/Electrode makes for a surprisingly fun and effective deck, though very risky in many different ways. I don’t want to deny you the pleasure of trying it out though, so if you have the means to do so… Here is the list I have been using:

Pokémon – 17

4 Larvitar UL
2 Pupitar UL
4 Tyranitar Prime UL
3 Voltorb TM
2 Electrode Prime TM
2 Cleffa HS/CL

 

Trainers – 284 Pokémon Communication
4 Rare Candy
2 Junk Arm
4 Research Record
3 Prof. Oak’s New Theory
1 Prof. Elm’s Training Method
1 Judge
1 Flower Shop Lady
3 Twins
4 Pokémon Collector
1 Black Belt

Energy – 154 Double Colorless
4 Special Darkness
7 Basic Dark

Your game plan is as follows: you can start with any of the three different Basics in the deck. Larvitar is the guy that has to be Active when the show begins, but Cleffa retreats for free and we all know how Electrode leaves the Active spot. You should prioritize on Tyranitar over Electrode, since very often, he can be a hazard by himself.

Tyranitar Primepokebeach.comIn fact, I am quite sure that he would do even better without Electrode at all, but then I would have no reason to talk about this deck. But if you can set up an Electrode on your Bench, you should do so. It might not be in time to set up your first Tyranitar, but it can get a second or third one going when your opponent least expects it.

Research Record is an incredible card for this deck, and I honestly wish I could have one to play every single turn. Use it after you played all the cards that shuffle your deck (Collector, Communication, etc), but before you use Energymite.

Research Record before Energymite allows you to guarantee Energy on top and cards you want to save for later (such as parts of your Tyranitar line) out of the way. You can use it in a similar fashion to sort cards before using Megaton Tail, which discards your top three. This is your best card to re-use with Junk Arm, in my opinion.

Everything else is fairly standard. I was so tempted to put in Sage’s Training to make getting an early Tyranitar even faster, but since this deck already mills so quickly, I decided not to. Most cards I put in here are fairly obvious.

The third Voltorb might look a little awkward, but it only has 40 HP. You can ask Oddish how that has been working out for him when playing against Yanmega. For the same sniping related reasons, I recommend the boring 60 HP Larvitar over the exciting 50 HP Mountain Eating Larvitar. If /Yanmega wants to kill it before it evolves, they better work for it.

It shouldn’t be too hard to fit in other techs you might want in there: Defender, PlusPower, Alph Litograph FOUR, more Junk Arm, Pokémon Reversal, etc. I don’t recommend trying to cover up Tyranitar’s horrid weakness to Donphan with things like Yanmega. You’re going to lose to that thing, no questions asked. Just stay consistent and stick to this deck’s idea and hope you don’t run into it at league.

pokebeach.comMy apologies if you’re not interested in this gimmick deck, but I haven’t ever seen it being discussed for the HGSS format and I believe it’s good and entertaining enough to see the light of the day in very minor events and fun matches.

At the very least, if you do end up losing, you have the option to leave Electrode as the last Pokémon on your field and deliver the final blow to yourself.

I did mention I’m a bit sadistic.

As I said in my previous article, I don’t really like to talk about cards that aren’t released yet. The moment they are introduced to the game, the entire metagame is shaken up and assumptions made today could be completely false tomorrow.

Regardless, I want to give a quick shout out to the Eelektrike that has been revealed for the Japanese Red Collection. For those unfamiliar, Eelektrike is a Stage 1 (evolves from a Lightning equivalent of Magikarp, called Tynamo) with a Poké-Power that is similar to Typhlosion’s Afterburner: once during your turn, you can attach a Lightning Energy to one of your Benched Pokémon.

It is restricted to once per turn even if you get multiple of these guys out, but at least you don’t have to place damage counters. This is similar to Pachirisu in that you have to get a little creative on how to use it, and many of the ways to do so work for both of these.

Granted, the release of several other cards (such as Pokémon Catcher) can and probably will completely change the pace of the game to the point where even a Stage 1 Benched tech is no longer the way to go and the format is no longer about Energy acceleration. But on the off chance it isn’t, it’s nice to have a little sneak peak ahead in time right here.

Back to the present, there is one more Pokémon that you could qualify as something that helps you set up, but I’m going to save him for later since he does so much more than just that.

Main Attackers

pokebeach.comLet’s talk about a few Pokémon you can use to attack with. As I said when discussing Electrode Prime, Lightning Pokémon usually attack with recoil or burning Energy. Raichu is generally no exception: we’ve had over 20 different Raichu between Base Set and now, and it hardly ever seems to deviate from the theme.

Currently, we have no less than three in a Modified format where a Pokémon is lucky if it’s even represented by one card, and the only one that doesn’t have either of these suicidal traits (the UD one) is not worth talking about.

The HS Raichu is more interesting, even if it only has vanilla damage attacks. “Iron Tail” has potential to 1HKO a Steelix Prime with 4 Metal Energy (sp) and 4 Defenders attached, but if you manage to pull that off I think you should be trying your luck in Las Vegas instead.

For us normal humans, this attack averages slightly above 15 damage and involves a high failure rate, so I suggest you take a look at “Thunderbolt” instead.

Thunderbolt has been printed on quite a few cards, mostly on members of the Raichu line. The first version was on Base Set Zapdos, and fundamentally, it hasn’t changed any. You discard all of the Energy attached to the Pokémon involved, and you deal (what’s supposed to be) a lot of damage. Back then, it was LLLL for 100. For this particular card, the cost has been halved, but the damage output is the same.

This Raichu was one of the first HGSS cards I saw when I was getting back into the game. With 100 damage for just two Energy it had me convinced the game went through a major power creep. Yes, you have to discard, but look at that efficiency!

And with that free Retreat Cost, you could just swap back and forth between two Raichu if you had enough set-up time. Turns out I forgot to look at Raichu’s awkwardly low 90 HP and weakness to Donphan Prime’s cheap “Earthquake”.

pokebeach.comI believe the best (and most intriguing) Raichu is Raichu Prime. “Mega Thunderbolt” uses up slightly more Energy and ink for what is essentially just a stronger Thunderbolt: LLC for 120, discard all Energy attached to Raichu.

120 is a lot closer to getting 1HKOs on the various 130/140 HP Pokémon in the format (mostly Stage 2s and the Dragon duo), and paying an extra Energy will obviously be easier than throwing all of Troll And Toad’s PlusPowers on the field (if only because you’re really only allowed 4 in your deck).

What really makes Raichu Prime the better Raichu is the Poké-Power, “Voltage Increase”. Voltage Increase makes for a one-way Energy transfer route between all your other Pokémon and Raichu Prime. This is one of these creative ways that allow you to put Pachirisu’s Self-Generation to full use.

As long as you can keep the Energy flowing from your hand, you would theoretically be able to fire Mega Thunderbolt after Mega Thunderbolt. And really, who wouldn’t want to announce an attack called Mega Thunderbolt every turn?

There are only a couple of decent attackers left to discuss. Among them are Entei & Raikou LEGEND (ERL) and Lanturn Prime, both of which were discussed in-depth in previous articles due to their type ambiguity. They are both interesting, and they are both worthy of being tried out in a fun tier [insert number higher than 2 here] deck, but there is only so much to say about them.

There is also Raikou & Suicune LEGEND, which I have not discussed at all, but that’s because he’s bad. I said so in my last article as well, with the main reason being that it was inferior to…

pokebeach.comZekrom, the winner of no less than two National Championships, found guilty of causing the Pachirisu and Shaymin prices to skyrocket world wide. Together with those two, he calls himself “ZPS”, and threatens 120 damage on the first turn through a combination so often discussed and chewed out that I’m going to assume you already know of it.

So instead of going over Zekrom’s stats, I’m going to tell you in detail what I think of it. Ever since I went through test runs with it the first time, I have been loudly and proudly proclaiming my opinion on Zekrom: it sucks.

Now, I should put a disclaimer here that I don’t think that Zekrom is an easy win for anyone, nor do I think it’s actually really terrible. If anything, my low rating for Zekrom is a result of a high rating for it by other players across the globe.

It’s as if I’m watching a YouTube video with their old rating system, and I think it’s only okay, worth of 3 stars at most. Then I look at the bar and I notice it has been given perfect 5-star ratings by everyone. So instead of 3-starring it like I otherwise would have, I give it 1 star just so the average comes closer to what I believe to be realistic.

I acknowledge that Zekrom is very dangerous earlygame. The opening flip can often decide whether you get to draw a card against it at all, and after the first Bolt Strike, it can generally kill Basics with a 60 damage Outrage. If you can’t gain momentum on it quickly enough, they will even have the time to set up a second Zekrom the slow way.

But after cruising through the Tepigs, Magnemites, and Larvitars, your opponent is going to be set up and ready for a prize exchange. You might have two charged Zekrom, but they will both have effectively 90 HP (barring Defender…that card is good, by the way!) and with a filled Bench, you’re going to have a hard time to keep them coming. I’ve seen Zekrom run out of gas so often it’s not even funny.

It’s kind of like a less extreme version of Uxie Donk or Sabledonk for HGSS on: if you’re not confident in your playing skills, use this deck and you will stand a pretty decent chance against anything that doesn’t play Donphan. If you’ve been practicing, by all means play something with an actual long term game plan.

So, just for scientific interest, I went and patched up my Zekrom list to test it. I hate playing it against a human opponent (the one time I decided to whip it out on Hamachi, I ended up in a Zekrom mirror), so instead I’m just going to see: how consistently can you get a Bolt Strike on turn 1?

The list I’m using:

Pokémon – 11

4 Zekrom BLW
3 Pachirisu CL
2 Shaymin UL
1 Tyrogue HS/CL
1 Cleffa HS/CL

Trainers – 31

1 Dual Ball
2 Super Scoop Up
3 PlusPower
1 Revive
3 Pokémon Reversal
4 Junk Arm
4 Pokégear 3.0
3 Professor Oak’s New Theory
4 Professor Juniper
2 Seeker
4 Pokémon Collector

Energy – 1818 Lightning

pokebeach.comSome might argue this list isn’t as consistent as it can be, and that I’m nerfing my list on purpose to make Zekrom look bad. To that I will say: yes, I could definitely think of ways to make it more likely to get the turn 1 Bolt Strike. I could cut Reversal, PlusPower, and Seeker for something like more Dual Balls.

However, I don’t believe a list like that would be realistic for a tournament setting, where you don’t necessarily try to Bolt Strike, but try to win. In fact, if I were to take this to a tournament, I would try to find room for 1-2 Defender. So if anything, I’m doing the reverse.

Let’s get to field testing this baby, shall we? I will simply keep starting a Redshark game, start my first turn (which includes laying down 6 Prizes, drawing a 7 card hand and then drawing one more), and see if I can Bolt Strike. Sometimes an Outrage with PlusPower is enough for a donk (beats Yanma and babies), so if I can Outrage but not Bolt Strike, I will note that.

Roughly the same applies to Shocking Bolt, which can KO everything with 50 HP or less, as well as some more obscure Pokémon like Oshawott.

Note about set-up: I will generally lay down all the Zekrom I have, start with either Zekrom or a baby if I can, and not lay down Shaymin or Pachirisu during set-up unless I have no choice, or feel it is a good choice. Hopefully my initial Basics are obvious.

Hand 1: Zekrom, Pokémon Reversal, Lightning x5

Draw: Lightning Energy

I’m not joking.

0-1

Hand 2: Zekrom, Shaymin, Pokégear, Lightning x4

Draw: Pokémon Collector

Very nice. Checked if Pachirisu was in the deck, and it was, so there’s an easy Bolt Strike.

1-1

Hand 3: Lightning, PlusPower, Pokégear, Revive, Shaymin, Shaymin, Zekrom

Draw: Lightning

I put down both Zekrom and one of the Shaymin for some realistic donk protection in case of a mirror match…I’m not going to run out of bench space in a one-turn simulation anyway.

Anyway, Pokégear needs to hit a Pokémon Collector or some other kind of out here. It does, but I still only have 2 Lightning. I do have a turn 1 PlusPowered Outrage here, though.

1-2

Hand 4: Collector, Collector, Reversal, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Seeker, Shaymin, Tyrogue

Draw: Reversal

I only put down Tyrogue here even though it’s as risky as it gets. Anyway, this is completely hopeless. In a tournament, I would just Collector for something like 2 Zekrom and a Cleffa, bench them all along with the Shaymin, and use one of the baby attacks. But for the sake of this simulation, we’ll try to PONT into a magic hand after playing down the Shaymin. Hilariously enough, I ended up hitting Pachirisu, Super Scoop Up and 3 Lightning, but the 6th card is just a Junk Arm that can’t help me get the Zekrom needed.

1-3

Hand 5: Lightning, Lightning, PlusPower, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Super Scoop Up, Zekrom, Zekrom

Draw: Junk Arm

pokebeach.comGotta go for the magic PONT again after ditching as much of my hand as I can. Attach Lightning, play PlusPower, Super Scoop Up for giggles, and PONT. New hand includes Cleffa, Dual Ball, 3 Lightning and a Collector. Need a dual heads to get out Shaymin and Pachirisu here. I only get one heads. However, I do have to note that this did have the turn 2 Bolt Strike.

1-4

Hand 6: Lightning x4, Pachirisu, Pokémon Reversal, Professor Oak’s New Theory

Draw: Pokégear

If Pokégear hits a Collector, I can at the very least Shocking Bolt or Outrage. The only Supporter it ends up seeing is Professor Juniper though. Juniper gets me one more card than PONT, which should make up for the fact that I’m getting rid of 3 Lightning after attaching one.

I end up getting 3 Lightning, 2 Collector, a PlusPower and a Pachirisu. Terrible for this turn, but next turn is Bolt Strike time.

1-5

Hand 7: Lightning x3, Professor Juniper, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Seeker, Shaymin

Draw: PlusPower

Have to Juniper into something like 3 Lightning, Zekrom, Pachirisu, Super Scoop Up (or equivalents such as Dual Ball for one of the Basics). Needless to say, I got nowhere near: Lightning, Pachirisu, 2× Pokégear, 2× Collector, Reversal.

1-6

Hand 8: Lightning x3, Pokégear x2, Pokémon Reversal, Zekrom

Draw: Shaymin

This can only end well. I only need one of the Pokégears to hit Collector and I’m set. The first one gets me either Juniper or Seeker (I take the former). The second…doesn’t hit any Supporter at all. The hell? I play down Shaymin and 1 Lightning, and Juniper in the hopes of getting the right amount of Dual Ball, Pachirisu, Super Scoop Up and Lightning Energy.

pokebeach.comMy new hand is Junk Arm, Lightning, Pachirisu, PlusPower x2, Shaymin, Zekrom. Enough for several small Basic Knock Outs with a 40 damage Outrage and maybe another hand refresh next turn through Junk Arming Pokégear, but otherwise unimpressive.

1-7

Hand 9: Junk Arm, Lightning x2, PlusPower, Pokégear, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Revive (mulligan)

Hand 9.2: Dual Ball, Lightning x2, Pokémon Collector, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Shaymin, Zekrom

Draw: Lightning.

Sweet. I even get two heads with Dual Ball so I can get both the needed Pachirisu and either a baby or a back-up Zekrom. Standard fare: Pachirisu, attach 2, Shaymin them, attach the third, play down the second grabbed Basic, and then even get a nice hand refresh with Professor Oak’s New Theory.

2-7

Hand 10: Zekrom, Lightning x4, Professor Juniper, Seeker

Draw: Lightning Energy

It’s time for a magic Juniper again. Attach and then discard no less than four Lightning. New hand is Junk Arm, Lightning, PlusPower x2, Pokémon Collector, Reversal, Professor Oak’s New Theory, also known as completely pointless.

2-8

clipartmojo.comAt this point, we are looking at a 20% success rate of turn 1 Bolt Strike. Of the eight failure hands, around half of them did have a Shocking Bolt or Outrage, which is reasonable against lone weak Babies. I realize that Zekrom does not necessarily have to donk to win: sometimes it only has to outspeed, and very often a turn 2 Bolt Strike is almost as threatening (especially if you go first).

However, I have heard rumors of 80% success donk rates, and when looking at these 10 testing hands I wouldn’t estimate it any higher than 50-60% against lone Basics.

Perhaps the way to go is to forego any kind of patching up to Zekrom’s flexibility and midgame? I’m going to try it out some more just to humor you.

I’m cutting all the cards that don’t help achieving the turn 1 Bolt Strike: 2 Seeker, 1 Revive, 3 Pokémon Reversal, 3 PlusPower. With this, I free up nine spaces. By maxing out Dual Ball, adding Unown UD and a Darkness Energy, and 4 Victory Medal, I’m fairly sure the chances have been maximized.

Yes, I know Victory Medal is rather inaccessible and not even remotely an optimal play, but I do believe it’s the best “filler” card we have: it essentially thins the deck down to 56 and has a small chance of fetching exactly what I need.

Hand 1: Junk Arm, Pokégear x2, Pokémon Collector, Super Scoop Up, Unown, Zekrom

Draw: Professor Oak’s New Theory

I have to PONT here, after ditching as many cards as I can. I play Unown, grab the Darkness and attach it to Zekrom. I Super Scoop Up to burn it (doesn’t matter if I get heads or tails), Junk Arm the Collector and a PokéGear for Super Scoop Up again, play Pokégear without getting anything, then PONT for 6 new cards. New hand: Junk Arm, Lightning x3, Professor Juniper, Super Scoop Up.

0-1

pokebeach.comHand 2: Lightning x3, Pokémon Collector, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Victory Medal, Zekrom

Draw: Junk Arm

Collector for Shaymin and Pachirisu, and the rest is rather obvious history.

1-1

Hand 3: Cleffa, Lightning, Professor Juniper, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Victory Medal x2, Zekrom

Draw: Pokégear

I didn’t bench the Cleffa. I don’t have enough Energy to go for the Collector with Pokégear right away, so I’m going to see what Victory Medal gets me. With three out of four tails, all I get is a Shaymin. So now I pretty much need to Juniper.

I Pokégear so I can get out a useless Supporter to discard (finding a PONT), bench Cleffa and Shaymin, attach the Lightning, and Juniper.

New hand: Darkness, Dual Ball, Junk Arm, Lightning, Collector, Tyrogue, Victory Medal. With Dual Ball, I could go for Pachirisu + Shaymin, while Victory Medal could get me my second Lightning, with Junk Arm (Tyrogue, Darkness/Collector) getting me a second chance at either. That’s a lot of flips and luck needed. Dual Ball gets double tails, Victory Medal gets double heads. I grab the Lightning.

At this point, there’s a turn 2 Bolt Strike in my hand that I would normally not let go. But for the sake of the experiment, let’s Junk Arm Tyrogue and the Darkness for the double heads on Dual Ball. It still allows me to Bolt Strike next turn, but 75% of the time it would limit my options more than it helps me. I only get one heads.

1-2

Hand 4: Lightning x3, Pachirisu, Professor Juniper, Victory Medal, Zekrom

Draw: Super Scoop Up

pokebeach.comThis seems possible, all I need is a Shaymin. Play Victory Medal and get two heads, and it’s over with. The Juniper afterward got me another Pachirisu and two Lightning as well as a Dual Ball, by the way.

2-2

Hand 5: Dual Ball x2, Junk Arm x2, Lightning x2, Pokémon Collector (mulligan)

Hand 5.2: Dual Ball x2, Lightning x2, Pachirisu, Pokémon Collector, Unown

If only I’d gotten a baby or a Zekrom to start with, but instead I’m stuck with Retreat Cost Pokémon. I play down the Unown.

Draw: Victory Medal

Double tails on the Victory Medal, so basically there is nothing left to do except prepare for the next turn.

2-3

Hand 6: Junk Arm, Pachirisu x2, Pokémon Collector, Shaymin, Super Scoop Up, Victory Medal

I start with one of the Pachirisu.

Draw: Darkness

Single heads Victory Medal gets me a Zekrom. My only hope to get an attack off is a Juniper from Victory Medal after Junk Arm…good chances. I just flip two coins, get one heads and draw another Pachirisu. No way out.

2-4

Hand 7: Lightning x3, Pachirisu, Pokémon Collector, Unown, Victory Medal

Well, I can get the Shocking Bolt at the very least, perhaps more. I start Unown.

Draw: Pokégear

Victory Medal single heads gets me a Pokémon Collector. Pokégear gets me a Juniper or a PONT, I take the former. Best move here is really to put a Zekrom Active and get the turn 2 Bolt Strike, but for turn 1 only the most I can do is Shocking Bolt.

2-5

pokebeach.comHand 8: Cleffa, Lightning x3, Professor Juniper, Professor Oak’s New Theory, Zekrom

Draw: Junk Arm

Now, ain’t that useful. Bench Cleffa, attach Lightning, and Juniper. New hand: Dual Ball, Lightning x3, Pokégear, Professor Juniper, Unown

Dual Ball gets a single heads when I needed two. I grab a Pachirisu. Pokégear gets me a Collector, so the turn 2 Bolt Strike is there at least.

2-6

Hand 9: Cleffa, Dual Ball, 5 Lightning

Draw: Super Scoop Up

Not quite the hand you’d want in a tournament, eh? Dual Ball gets a single heads when I needed three. :p At least after Eeeeeek and a Juniper, I got everything I needed for a turn 2 though.

2-7

Hand 10: Cleffa, Lightning x2, Pokégear x2, Shaymin, Unown

Draw: Pokégear

Triple Pokégear gets me a Collector for sure. All I really need to search out is Pachirisu and Zekrom, Unown gets me the third Energy I need, and that’s a wrap.

3-7

So, if a sample size of 10 was anything to go by, this increase in donkalicious cards, we just increased Zekrom’s viability by a whole 10%. I don’t know about you, but that isn’t very appealing for you. Now, one might argue that my deck lists are not optimal, or that Redshark’s randomization is more screwy real life shuffling, or that I’m putting too much focus on just that turn 1 attack.

pokebeach.comTo each of those, there are various counter arguments possible, but I am not looking to be part of a “Zekrom is bad” “no it’s not” discussion, at least not within my article. My point is not that black and white.

Straight ZPS is fast and potentially dangerous for about every deck out there. But it is also very one-dimensional, inflexible, and easy to get stuck with. As easy as it is for it to sometimes grab the first two or 3 Prizes, it often has about that much difficulty with the last two or three. Therefore, I believe it is fair to say that ZPS is an inconsistent deck.

While it might not look like it, there are a few things that I like about Zekrom, aside from his potentially high speed. The first thing I like is that it’s Lightning (like, you know, everything else in this article). Not only that, but it’s a rather splashable Lightning.

Bolt Strike isn’t exactly easy to use outside of ZPS, but Outrage has some serious damage potential. Being Lightning means you get to hit the extremely hyped Yanmega Prime for double damage, as well as Kingdra Prime.

I think the best way of using Zekrom is using it as a tech, rather than a deck focus. It has been done before here, and in fact, one of my first HGSS testing matches was against a Krookodile/Zekrom/Reuniclus deck. You can replace Krookodile with anything else you want to use as a main attacker here: the whole idea is that Reuniclus shifts damage away from it, onto Zekrom to fuel Outrage.

The reason this particular combo was chosen is because Zekrom can do a number on the Water types that could 1HKO Krookodile due to its weakness. Obviously, Reshiram fits into this kind of build pretty easily: it weakens Kingdra Prime’s Dragon Steam, and can power up its Outrage in the same way Zekrom does.

Speaking of tech, some people advocate teching for Zekrom’s weaknesses with something like Samurott or Yanmega. In my last article I went pretty in depth on Samurott on why it’s a bad idea, and I think my sample games show how badly Zekrom needs every bit of consistency it can get. It does relieve the stress on Zekrom a bit though, since Bolt Strike is so self destructive.

Now, with the upcoming Eviolite item (which is essentially a permanent Defender for Basics such as Zekrom), my stance on this might change. But for now, I believe the future for Zekrom is to focus on Outrage and an occasional Bolt Strike, not his own donking deck.

Neither here nor there

pokebeach.comA little less than 3000 words have been used to analyze Zekrom as thoroughly as I could. Before we move on to a Pokémon that deserves at least as much analysis, I want to talk about a few Pokémon that I don’t want to just tack on at the end. They are Pokémon that aren’t necessarily set-up aid or main attackers, but techs that have some neat tricks.

The first one is Elekid, and he’s already had a pretty good introduction in several other articles so I will spare you the boring details. Elekid’s “Sparkling Ball” hits something on your opponent’s field for 20, and therefore makes a very good addition to decks that deal spread damage and/or utilize Jirachi’s “Time Hollow”.

Now, if we were still at the start of the HGSS season, I’d tell you to cram one of these into your decks to try it out, but back then we were all allowing each other to set up behind Cleffa all day until someone took the initiative to start a prize race.

We’re no longer in that golden age. Yanmega, Kingdra, Pokémon Reversal and several other Pokémon are out there to hunt your babies, and in addition the Tyrogue threat is too big to ignore. So you might want to minimize your Baby counts, and since Elekid is really more “nice to have” than “totally necessary when my hand sucks or I want to donk my opponent”, he would be one of the first things to get cut.

That said, he CAN kill opposing Babies with a PlusPower. Just remember that Elekid doesn’t do this whole weakness/resist thing (not even against their Active) when you’re up against Yanma or Phanpy.

The second is Ampharos Prime, a card that has been in our format for a while and occasionally gets some hype but never seems to actually get there. Like Elekid, he thrives in a slow format, where Emboar and other forms of Energy acceleration are extremely popular. Keep raining down the Energy, Magneboar, because for every one you attach, “Super Conductivity” puts a damage counter.

Ampharos Primepokebeach.comSomeone I occasionally test with put it in a Stage 1 deck with fairly good results (Yanmega and , mostly), but right now I believe Kingdra is the better play, as you have a better control where the damage goes. Decks right now need a lot less Energy attachments (Yanmega needs zero), and as a result you’re just going to get more bang for your buck with “Spray Splash”.

Ampharos does have a semi-cool attack in “Lightning Crush”, which either deals 80, or 40 with a forced Energy discard for your opponent. It’s all for the cost of LCC, which is doable with Rainbow Energy and Double Colorless Energy, making it easier to combine him with non-Lightning main attackers. Again, this is the type that deals double damage to Yanmega. It’s no “Lost Burn” or “Blue Flare” but it’s acceptable to fall back on.

My third and last “weird Pokémon” is Galvantula. If you are familiar with the card, you are probably scratching your head right now. A 80 HP Stage 1 with a damage cap of 40 can’t be anything serious, right?

For CC, “Leech Life” is one of those draining attacks that deals minor damage and heals minor damage, accomplishing exactly nothing in a constructed format. My only interest for Galvantula (in the TCG, anyway) lies in “Electroweb”, which stops your opponent from retreating while also dealing 20 for just L.

This is one of those Pokémon that goes in the same gallery as Simisear: right now, it’s not really good for anything, but it’s rather unique. There are Lightning Pokémon in our format that deal more damage, such as Jolteon and Electrode (not Prime), but I don’t consider them worth discussing because they accomplish nothing that Zekrom and our final contender can’t do much better.

Meanwhile, Galvantula stops your opponent from retreating, and that’s very interesting. I have to confess that Galvantula has gone completely untested for me. My only “real” idea so far has been to pair it with Vileplume and Roserade to have something die a slow death in the Active spot, unable to get past the Poison and Confusion by retreating or playing Switch.

pokebeach.comThis plan has more flaws than Galvantula has legs, so I won’t seriously defend it. As sad as it is, Spinarak “outspiders” Galvantula at this whole trapping deal because it’s Basic and doesn’t deal damage, allowing it to create a perpetual lock and win games on time.

So now that we’re done with the biggest afterthought of this whole article, let’s talk about the eBay money making star, the Unidentified Flying Pokémon, the closest thing to Claydol we have in this format. I am talking of course about Magnezone Prime.

Let’s go over the basics first. Magnezone has a nice 140 HP, which keeps it from being 1-shotted without putting in a little effort with PlusPower. It has a Power called “Magnetic Draw” that allows you to draw cards up to…oh, you already know all that, don’t you? I can’t blame any kind of audience to fall asleep here: this is only the 43rd article that discusses Magnezone.

Almost everything that can be said about Magnezone has been said. Even in a time where speed has taken over and has all but shut down the insane Magnezone/Emboar deck (please call it Red Zone, not Magneboar), Magnezone continues to be prominent (and pricy) to aid the new boss Yanmega.

It is still fairly durable, it still refills your hand where you would otherwise have to reach for a Professor or a Baby, and it can still 1HKO a Yu-Gi-Oh! player if you want it to with Lost Burn as long as you have the 160 Energy cards on the field to send to the Lost Zone (might have to share decks with a few friends here).

Magnezone has the best of multiple worlds because both its Power and attack are in high demand, and because of that, I think he is the most teched against card in the format at the moment. Unlike one of his favourite partners Yanmega, Magnezone has weaknesses that are easy to capitalize on: a fairly splashable Fighting tech exists in Donphan, and it also has a 3 Retreat Cost that can be punished with the use of Muk’s “Sludge Drag” attack (which also locks out its Power) or Pokémon Reversal.

pokebeach.comIt is a great card, but not great enough that it can remain on top without others changing their tactics to overcome it. This is exactly what happened during Nationals, and it may very well happen to Yanmega too.

Speaking of Yanmega, Yanmega/Magnezone was one of my favourite decks to play. I say was because I was having a lot of fun with it while everyone else seemed to be in Magnezone/Emboar mode. It’s not a hobby of mine to act like a “deck hipster” that always has to play something that others don’t, but I honestly stopped using this deck for fun games simply because I find the mirror match terribly boring.

It is a great deck with a lot of options to exploit, having speed, draw power, disruption, and a “big hit” to take care of tanks. It uses the two “best Pokémon in the format” (put in quotations because it is somewhat arguable, but at least eBay prices agree), and to be honest, it surprised me how this was even considered a remotely secret deck to begin with.

Their synergy isn’t as obvious as, say, Reshiram/Emboar, but it’s not exactly rocket science either. I gathered that many top level players already knew how good this deck was before it did well in a tournament setting but chose to keep it within their own groups instead of praising it, which could be the explanation.

What else is there to say about Magnezone? It is one of the hardest Pokémon to beat head-on due to the customizable and unlimited damage output, and therefore it was the king of the game before it was sped up beyond its capacity. If you do manage to let it set up, you are in for a tough time.

Luckily, its pre-evolutions are nothing special. Magnemite only has 50 HP (KO’d by Linear Attack + Spray Splash), and Magneton has 80 (2HKO’d by Linear Attack), and neither of them have any really good attacks. I mean, Magnemite is no Magikarp, but no Shiny Vulpix or Stormfront Gastly either. It can get out of the Active by using its attack to conserve Energy, but very often I find myself wanting to retreat to Cleffa for a hand refresh that same turn anyway.

I apologize if you were expecting something very in-depth for Magnezone, but since I strive for my articles to be both informative and a good read, I thought repeating everyone else on the subject was not the best way to go.

Lightning versus other types

pokebeach.comI have emphasized how good Lightning is versus Yanmega several times now, but only gave a few sweeping notions to how bad the Fighting weakness is. As far as I know, there is no legal Zapdos in the format, which means most Lightning types have to be satisfied with “you’re okay, just don’t face Donphan Prime”.

It’s one of those weaknesses that’s going to remain significant and match-up dependent for as long as the HGSS set is legal, because being dealt 120 damage for one Energy is just bad no matter who you are. Especially since Donphan Prime’s “Exoskeleton” compounds with its Lightning resistance and makes it very difficult to revenge kill with a pure Lightning deck. Even the great champion Magnezone needs to Lost Zone 4 Energy (3 with a little help) to kill it.

Donphan isn’t the most difficult Pokémon to tech against, though. Its Retreat Cost is enormous and Fighting resistances can be found everywhere.

The most obvious one is Yanmega, but there’s some more unorthodox ones out there, like the Red Gyarados and Swanna mentioned in my last article (better if you’re on a budget for sure), and there’s also Crobat Prime to consider. Ruins of Alph removes Donphan’s Lightning resistance, but remember that it still has the Poké-Body.

The Fighting weakness isn’t very relevant anymore aside from Donphan. Most people have moved on from Machamp Prime, and the next most viable Fighting Pokémon that hit for weakness are generally inferior versions of the elephant. I would elaborate a little further on that, but that would kind of ruin the point of my next article, wouldn’t it?

Conclusion

pokebeach.comLightning has one really good Pokémon (Magnezone Prime), one okay Pokémon that everyone either loves or hates (Zekrom), and a few interesting Pokémon that you’re not going to see in any serious games but are interesting to think of ideas for (Electrode Prime).

It doesn’t have the biggest pool of contenders, but it seems that in almost every format there is at least one really good Lightning Pokémon (remember Base Set Electabuzz and Rocket’s Zapdos?).

As I’m writing this, we’re right inbetween Nationals and Worlds. As a tournament hermit, this does not seriously affect my writing other than occasionally making a mention of a certain card’s tournament performance, be it in the past, present, or future. I don’t think there’s anyone going to Worlds that needed me to tell them Magnezone is a card to watch out for.

Regardless of that, I hope you found this an interesting read. To all of you going to San Diego: best of luck and have fun!

Reader Interactions

16 replies

  1. Travis Russell

    Your articles without decklists are much, much better. Why would anyone only run 1 Dual Ball in ZPS, and then run 18 Energy? I’m sorry, but that’s just one of the worst ZPS decklists I’ve seen.

    • David Griggs  → Travis

      It wasn’t a tournament report, it was a report on T1 Donk by ZPS. While it was a great example of why you shouldn’t play a deck that you don’t like, I don’t feel like it’s an accurate representation of how ZPS should be played.

      ZPS getting the T1 Donk is an added bonus, getting it T2 and doing it consistently is how the deck wins. In tournament play, you shouldn’t Juniper a hand of goodies just to get the T1 Bolt Strike if you could have it T2. While it’s a good idea to do realistic testing for the T1 donk, it’s not often that you actually win off that.

    • Alex Hedge  → Travis

      18 energy, along with 1 Dual Ball and 4 Collector do explain some of those bad hands. 15 energy at most is fine, 2 Collector and 4 Dual Ball is also a much better play.

  2. Anonymous

    I think you stuff is generally good. However, while claiming to not get into the Zekrom debate, you full well did. To be honest, I did not think that Zekrom would be that great. However, it has taken TWO national championships. What is even more amazing is that the two championship top fields were different.

    Yes, the Canadian Nats winner went against a ton of Yanmega and Zekrom destroys Yanmega. Yet, the Mexican Nats winner had to take care of a bunch of Reshiram and even beat MagneBoar in the finals. I firmly believe the only reason why straight Zekrom did not go far in US Nats is simply because the best players refused to play it.

    So, to still claim that this deck is inconsistent is a little vindictive (sounds childish and is based on anecdote instead of results).

  3. J Humphrey

    You should run 4 Professor Elms in your zekrom! xD

  4. George

    I always saw Raichu HS as a counter-punch for water/flying types. It would KO both a Kingdra Prime and Yanmega Prime. With the coming of Pokemon Catcher in August, this may gain some play as a tech against the Meta.

  5. Anonymous

    If you are seeking T1 120:  

    I think Sage’s Training is generally more useful than PONT here.
    You need to reduce the odds of having to start with Shaymin, Pachirisu or Unown active, which means including more free-retreat Pokemon and reducing Pachirisu to 2.

  6. Renato van Bloemenhuis

    Great article. I do think that the ZPS “testing” was a little biased. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed reading it, but I run and playtested ZPS a lot and am convinced that its a good setup, íf you team it up with some other main attacker(s). Júst running Zekrom is just kinda stupid and unrealistic. I heard the canadian nats winner even had a Reshiram in his deck to keep Kingdra’s attack low and to have a fire tech on board.

    Teaming ZPS with Yanmega Prime or Magnezone or any other solid performer (Zoroark as a counter card fe) will greatly enhance the effectiveness of a ZPS deck and provide solid mid to late game performance. T1 Bolt Strike is cool but you need to be extremely fortunate in the draw (and/or flip) as you showed us here, and through playtesting it myself, had concluded also. But being able to Outrage in T2 and get Bolt Strike up by T3 (and have a Zekrom and another attacker on the bench) is also a good early match setup right?

    That’s my personal opinion anyway :-)

    But… good article and entertaining read! Keep up the good work!

  7. Ryan Rose

    wow, there is alot of good information in this article, as ive come to see in all of the ones you write, keep up the good work, i really enjoy reading your work.

  8. Rodrigo Torres

    Note aside: I don’t think Eelektrike’s ability is restricted once by turn when you have multiple copies of it. I think, is that so, it explicit it as victiny is.

  9. Jakob Silvmark

    “Let’s go over the basics first. Magnezone has a nice 140 HP”The basics, Magnemite. 140 HP!?Aha, he meant the basic assets of the card, not it’s basic stage of evolution.Misreading can be dangerous.

  10. Dave Wilson

    I think I just learned how NOT to run these decks.

  11. Sam W

    i think people are having trouble telling the difference between disagreeing with your article and your article being poorly written

    the article was written very well, but as i have expressed in the past, I feel ZPS to be the stongest deck in the format. I do not like this fact, and it’s why I don’t play anymore.

    Very good write-up. Maybe one day we’ll find a way to use Electrode.

  12. Mekkah

    It looks like there is a lot to clear up here. Some of your comments were incredibly helpful, some of them missed my point completely. It’s as if some people only skimmed the article, saw the Zekrom hate, my (suboptimal) list and the runs I was doing, but didn’t read the disclaimers about how my point isn’t that Zekrom sucks, or that I think it can’t win if it doesn’t donk or Bolt Strike turn 1 (I even said that a turn 2 Bolt Strike is almost as threatening!).

    First off, to those who have concerns with my list. I agree 18 Energy is a lot, but I didn’t just fish that out of thin air: I had the amount stuck in my head because of an UG list that had it. I went and checked back and it seems some other lists had a bit less. I don’t believe it was a HORRIBLE decision to run nearly 1/3 of my deck as Energy though, as in my testing (not just for this article, but overall), I’ve found that getting 3 Energy is at least as difficult as having the three Pokémon needed for the combo…but the amount of 3-4 Energy hands without the ability to “ZPS” is a bit too high to completely go against the notion of having too much Energy.

    I also agree with whoever said PONT is generally a waste when going for the t1 120, and hadn’t even thought of Sage’s for whatever reason.

    However, I don’t believe its “negative” record stems from (just) my list. For those who find 1 Dual Ball weird, note how the deck didn’t get a whole lot better than I added three more in favor of cards such as PlusPower and Pokémon Reversal (which did nothing for all intends and purposes of this test, other than being easy to burn).

    Regardless, I don’t want to look like I just shrug off criticism like nothing, I want to actually respond to it with something of substance. So what I did was do another two runs of 10 hands with an improved version of the first deck. I cut the Energy down to 14 Lightning/1 Darkness, 2 Pachirisu, 2 Shaymin, 1 Unown UD, upped to 4 Dual Ball/4 Collector, and put in 3 Sage’s. It pretty much has the biggest amount of get-Bolt-Strike-turn-1 without resorting to a card like Victory Medal. In these runs, I got 2/10 and 3/10, with the former run being recorded in text if anyone is interested.

    If you really think the fundamental problem is in my deck building, then feel free to show me your amazing awesome magic list that gets a better record than that whenever you do it. Or just do your own. If you think I am putting too much emphasis on the turn 1 Bolt Strike, look back at my Youtube analogy. I do not think Zekrom is the worst deck out there by a long shot, but I do believe the people who “have been rating it 5 stars” and put out nonsense such as “consistently does 120 damage on turn 1” need to be contradicted somewhere.

    For airhawk06’s comment:
     I understand your problem with the whole “me not wanting to get into the Zekrom debate” part. It may have been better if I made this distinction clear in my article: I don’t want an endless back-and-forth banter in the comments section of my article, or to carry out a fictional debate between me and random Zekrom player in my article itself. I am writing this comment to clear things up moreso than to incite more discussion/debate and I don’t plan to respond to anyone contradicting me from here unless what they’re saying has merit and hasn’t been addressed.

    At Renato van Bloemenhuis:
    I appreciate the respecting tone of your post, man. I don’t really get how you could review Zekrom “without bias” though: it seems pretty much everyone either loves it or hate it. The best you can do is give it as objective of an review as humanly possible, which I tried to do. Way back when this card was shown first, I started testing it with an empty mind (perhaps even a little in favor of it) and based my opinion on that. And right now, I have done everything I can to give it all the credit it deserves. Look back in the article if you don’t believe me: I acknowledged its potential speed and donkability, I conducted the Redshark testing fairly (if anyone believes I rigged or made up my hands, just quit reading then lol), made optimal plays to my knowledge (and when I didn’t, eg Juniper/shuffle away a hand that had good cards for next turn, I noted when doing so saying I was only going for the t1 just to see if I’d get it), and I even made note when I could Outrage or Shocking Bolt instead of Bolt Strike because sometimes that’s enough for a donk as well.

    As for pairing Zekrom with another attacker, I am not too big of a fan of that either. It further cuts into its speed, I’m not sure if it helps his bad match-ups (Magnezone surely doesn’t help vs Donphan, Yanmega might) enough to make up for it, etc.

    Someone even said I was being childish or something? But I can’t find that so it must’ve been edited out or removed in some other way.

    That said, I now know better than to go this kind of route with any future articles (not that I can think of any card like Zekrom in the types still to come that would require anything like it). I may or may not leave deck lists out of it as well. It seems I’ve given the impression that I’m a bad deck builder or something with just the Zekrom lists. That’s not a problem for me, I just thought they were a good opportunity to get a better view on how a card is played than just “pair this card with that one”, since that was actually a main gripe of many an article in the past.

    tl;dr Rocket Zapdos for life

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