Why Zebstrika is Better than Mewtwo EX

amity-square.deviantart.comNow that I’ve gotten your attention with a completely ridiculous title, I must profess the truth. There is no chance in the world that Zebstrika NDE is a better or more effective card than Mewtwo EX. However, this electrified zebra was all but ignored in every single Next Destinies set review. If Zebstrika was even mentioned, it was in a small impact section and only briefly examined.

Though its impact is yet to be seen, I was fairly disappointed in the amount of reviews by respected writers and bloggers that ignored this lil guy. If you ask me, Zebstrika is far more important than many of us realized — if you think I’m kidding, just check the results of the European Challenge Cup (ECC), where Zebstrika showed up twice in the top 10.

I’m writing this article to tell you why Zebstrika NDE is my favorite Pokémon card and why I’ve been anticipating its release since the scans were released on Pokébeach.com way back in 2011.


Let’s start with an overview of Zebstrika’s basic pre-evolution: Blitzle. Firstly, this guy is adorable and the art is awesome. It’s a 60 HP Basic Lightning Pokémon, so naturally it receives Fighting weakness. Blitzle has an appropriate Retreat Cost of 1. While there are several Blitzles scattered throughout the Black and White series, there’s only one worth mentioning: Blitzle NVI.

The Blitzle from Noble Victories is the best choice because of its attack: Agility. While Agility only does 10 damage for a single L Energy, if one manages to flip heads, you can prevent all damage done to Blitzle the following turn. Though this may seem insignificant, it can really get you out of a jam when you have a slow setup, go second, or are up against CMT (Celebi/Mewtwo/Tornadus), which can do 40-80 damage T1 with relative ease.

I’ve also had some success stalling with it late game, although I would hope you never end up in this position. In my opinion, this is a pretty great pre-evolution; you couldn’t ask for much more.

On to Zebstrika. Like Blitzle, there’s only one Zebstrika worth mentioning — Zebstrika NDE. The stats: Zebstrika is a 90 HP Stage 1 Lightning Pokémon. It has Fighting weakness and free retreat. Zebstrika has two attacks: the first is called Disconnect, which for a Lightning and a Colourless Energy, does 40 damage and prevents the opponent from playing any Trainer-Items next turn.


The second attack is Lightning Crash. For two L Energy and a Colourless Energy, Zebstrika can bench-hit for 80 damage. Unfortunately, you have to discard all L Energy attached to Zebstrika. I think the best way to explain why Zebstrika is great is through analyzing each of these statistics.


While many would scoff at 90 HP, a relatively low number for this format, I would argue that it’s the perfect amount for Zebstrika because of a card called Level Ball. Level Ball allows you to search your deck for any Pokémon with 90 HP or below. Because Eelektrik also has 90 HP, Level Ball is very commonly used in Eelektrik decks.

Fortunately, this makes Zebstrika an easy addition to the deck. 90 HP is also a hair above the 80 damage that Regigigas-EX, Mewtwo EX, and Tornadus can do, making it fairly viable. Other than Mewtwo EX and the genies like Tornadus, Landorus and Thundurus, the only other main attackers in format are Zekrom and Reshiram (I guess Cobalion too, but he doesn’t seem to be cutting it if ECC results are a fair litmus test).

Zekrom and Reshiram are doing 120, and the EX versions are doing 150, both which are far above Zebstrika’s 90 HP. While some would prefer Zebstrika had 130 HP, the fact that it’s searchable with Level Ball is an advantage that shouldn’t be taken for granted.


Fighting weakness on Zebstrika is practically irrelevant. The only Fighting cards really being played right now are Donphan Prime and Terrakion NVI. Donphan does 60 for 1 Fighting, but isn’t really seeing much play relative to other top decks. Donphan/Dragons isn’t winning enough tournaments for Zebstrika to fear it. In fact, I would argue that Donphan will be basically extinct once Zekrom-EX becomes widely played, which — again — if we look at ECC results, we can expect Zekrom-EX to become widely played.

Terrakion, on the other hand, is really only used as an Electric tech. Due to weakness it can 1-shot Zekrom-EX and Magnezone for only a Fighting and a Colourless. It can even one-hit an Eviolited Zekrom-EX with a PlusPower. Terrakion can’t one hit Zebstrika with it’s first 30 damage attack (unless you Knocked Out a Pokémon last turn), and it’s second attack does 90 anyway.

Typing isn’t really a problem at all for Zebstrika. And having Zebstrika’s Knocked Out isn’t really as a huge a problem as it may seem. I’ll explain why later.


Zekrom/Eels player will understand how important this is. Because Eelektrik can only use Dynamotor to attach Lighting energy from the discard to the bench, it’s nice to have a free retreater to promote so you can attach to a benched attacker.

Without a free retreater, you might get stuck with a Zekrom without enough energy to attack in your active. This is a huge problem because it slows the deck down and will cost you time and resources to manually attach to your attacker.


There’s some discussion as to which of Zebstrika’s attacks is better. Who really cares? They’re both great. Let me begin with Disconnect, since it’s my favorite of the two and my main reason for using it. Disconnect does 40 damage for a Lightning and a Colourless energy. Yes. It’s weak, but the effect is why it’s worth using. Disconnect Item locks your opponent for the following turn.

I don’t think I need to explain why that’s a great effect, but I’ll discuss the implications for this format and future formats. Disconnect is an aptly named attack. If you’re able to do first and achieve a turn two Disconnect, you can prevent your opponent from ever setting up. CMT and Durant are really the only two decks that don’t require any Stage 1s or Stage 2s in format. Everything else is strongly hindered by an early Disconnect. This gives you a lot of time to start setting up Eels, Zebstrika’s and other attackers.

Disconnect is also great because unlike Vileplume, it doesn’t lock you out of Items as well. This means you can Catcher up high retreat Pokémon and hit them for 40 damage every turn until your opponent can attach enough energy to retreat them. Most of the time, the cost of a manual retreat is too great a cost in the long game and will result in a loss.

Just think of how essential Double Colourless is to CMT and Zekrom/Eels. Terrakion is definitely a fun one to mess with. Eels are also particular Catcher bait. But both suffer even worse seeing as your opponent can’t use Switch due to Disconnect’s effect.

Many argue that Disconnect’s biggest fault is the damage output — that 40 damage in this format isn’t playable. While I agree that 40 is pretty low right now, I wouldn’t say that it makes Zebstrika unplayable. Let’s talk about 40 HP Pokémon that you can easily Catcher up, hit with Disconnect for the KO, and then Item lock your opponent in the same turn. Oddish UD, Tynamo, Voltorb TM, Solosis BLW, Cleffa HS, Pichu HS: these are some key ingredients in three top-notch decks.


Add a PlusPower to the mix and you’re KOing Magnemite TM, Doduo UD, Litwick, and Yanma TM. These cards are incredibly essential to some of the best decks in format. I won’t even bother to mention all the Pokémon you can two hit. Just know that two-hitting with Zebstrika isn’t unreasonable since you’re Item locking and you opponent can’t always retreat.

Even though Zebstrika makes quick work of all these Pokémon (especially if you start first), I will concede to the opposition on one point. Eviolite can really destroy Disconnect. 40 damage in this format is reasonable, 20 is not. I’ll discuss more about Eviolite in the matchups, but know that it can cause real problems for Zebstrika. On the plus side, if you can start Disconnecting before your opponent can lay down Eviolites, you can prevent them from ever doing so.

The last use for Disconnect is the “soft wall.” Because Disconnect Item locks your opponent, it protects you from the most dangerous card in format: Pokémon Catcher. Eelektrik decks need time to set up, and if you’re having Tynamos Catchered and Knocked Out, it can prevent you from ever getting the two Eelektrik you need. Disconnect is a great way to protect your bench, but it also helps buy time when you need to stack energy on a Mewtwo EX or Zekrom.

Attack #2: Lightning Crash. This attack is pretty darn great. There are few Pokémon in format right now that can bench-hit for as much as Zebstrika. 80 damage to the bench is just a step away from being broken in this format. 90 damage would honestly be broken (Eels, Reuniclus). Magneton is the first Pokémon that comes to mind with 80 HP, but there are a lot in between that 40 and 80 mark that are worth bench hitting.

Because of Lightning Crash, Zebstrika is the perfect disruption card. You can Item lock the opponent, preventing them from communicating for a Stage One (remember they can’t use rare candy), then as soon as they get that Stage One, you can bench hit it and Knock it Out. But you’re sending energy to the discard. Oh no! Welp. Not to worry. If you play Zebstrika, you’ll probably be paying Eelektrik too.

THE Decklist

So you’ve got the facts on Zebstrika. But is it really strong enough to be placed in a deck all on it’s own? I really don’t think so. While I’ve heard of decks using Zebstrika and Amoongus NDE, I find them to be ill-conceived and fairly ignorant of the current format. There’s just no way that deck wins against CMT, Zekrom/Eels, or Reshiphlosion.

It’s simply too easy to retreat with Skyarrow Bridge, or low Retreat Costs, which completely neuters Amoongus. Plus Amoongus is complete Catcher fodder. Fortunately, there’s already a bed made for Zebstrika: Zekrom/Eels.

When I first started creating a list with Zebstrika, it didn’t even include Zekrom, but as time went on, it started to look more and more like Zekrom/Eels. While I’m still tinkering with a few ideas, this is the ideal list I came up with.

Pokémon – 18

3 Blitzle NVI

3 Zebstrika NDE

2 Tynamo NVI 38

2 Tynamo NVI 39

3 Eelektrik NV

1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

2 Zekrom BLW

1 Stunfisk NVI 68

1 Cleffa CL

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Oak’s New Theory

3 Pokémon Collector

3 N

1 Professor Juniper


4 Junk Arm

4 Level Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Switch

2 Pokégear 3.0

1 Pokémon Communication

1 PlusPower

1 Rocky Helmet

1 Lost Remover

1 Super Rod

Energy – 11

10 L

1 Rescue

While much of this list is self-explanatory, let me explain a few artistic choices.


I’m not really sure why I maintain a 2-2 split between the 30 and 40 HP ones. Perhaps I’m afraid of the Tyrogue donk. But the Mewtwo EX donk is far more common and still KOs the 40 HP Tynamo. So far I’ve had no occasion where I regretted running the 40 HP one, since the cost of retreating is basically non-existent with Eelektrik, but I still doubt whether I need them. It’s your call to make.


pokemon-paradijs.comWhy three, not four? I just don’t think I need four. Although three benched Eels is nice, it’s a rare occasion that I need them. I only need two, so if one gets KO’d or is prized, I still have a third. The choice is yours. But I like this balance.

Mewtwo EX

He’s just the perfect Mewtwo EX counter, and not a bad attacker at all. Don’t use him unless you have to. It really isn’t needed. If you can’t tell, I’m not buying all the hype. It’s a good card, but one you have to use carefully.


“Well,” you ask, “where the heck is it?” Guys (and gals), I just really don’t like that card at all, especially in this deck. To add that card I would need to include 4 DCE, which may be a good call considering Eelektrik’s Retreat Cost, but it takes away from the lightning energy I can Dynamotor and is susceptible to Lost Remover, which is bound to see more play.

I also don’t like Zekrom-EX as an attacker (especially if you don’t have DCE). I don’t find 150 to be all that much better than 120 in this format. This deck isn’t about hitting hard like Zekrom/Eels, it’s a different animal (zebra/zoo joke, sorry). Terrakion is really scary, and I don’t like the possibility of losing 2 Prizes.

Plus, I can’t always count on attaching again to Zekrom-EX after I Strong Volt. I find Zekrom to be a far better attacker, that’s easy to retreat if needed, and only costs 1 Prize. Everyone keeps telling me I should add it, but every time I’ve used it, I’ve ended up regretting it. Again, it’s your call, but I’ve played many a game with it and I’m still not fond of Zekrom-EX in here.


I understand the use of Thundurus in Zekrom/Eels, but in this deck you want a Zebstrika attacking T2. So why even include Thundurus?


pokemon-paradijs.comOkay. I know. You’re freaking the heck out. How stupid can I be? I recognize that Stunfisk isn’t all that great of a card, I do. But, let me try and explain why I use him. This Stunfisk has Fighting typing, but for two Lighting and a Colourless energy, it can do 50 damage and Paralyze if you flip heads. While 50 seems low, consider that Colourless, Dark, and Electric Pokémon almost all have a weakness to Fighting.

Stunfisk has another added bonus; a Lightning resistance. This means Magnezone has to Lost Burn three energy to KO him, Zekrom-EX has to Strong Volt, etc. While Stunfisk only has 90 HP, the lightning resistance pretty much boosts it to 110 in this format. And if you happen to run Eviolite, I understand that running another Zekrom could be a far wiser choice, but it’s pretty nice to be able to Level Ball for this little guy and it’s hilarious to win a game with him.

The look on your opponents face is priceless. Losing to arguably the ugliest Pokémon in format is pretty sad. If nothing else, consider Stunfisk’s ability to Paralyze; it has definitely won me games before. It’s quite fun to hit Regigigas-EX for 100, Paralyze him, and hit him again next turn for the KO.


Sometimes I wonder why I even add him. Then I remember Andrew Adam’s article post-Nationals last year. Lesson learned: always run Cleffa. Cleffa stalls, refreshes your hand, has free retreat; you can LEVEL BALL for one! Blah blah blah. We all know how great Cleffa is. It’s worth a single space in your list.


N is a great card; I’ve seen it put to great use again and again. In this deck, it works wonders behind the scenes. This deck, as I’ll explain later, counts on speed; N isn’t in here to save you from behind late game. Although N does provide some amazing comebacks, you should really hope you’re never in that position. N belongs in this deck because of Zebstrika’s Disconnect.

I can’t even express how often opponents will hoard all the Items they collect while under the lock. N can set them back to square one once you finally decide to end the lock. While this deck isn’t immune to N as is Magnezone, Zebstrika doesn’t take prizes THAT quickly, and once you’re set up, you don’t really need that many cards in hand.

Sage’s Training

pokemon-paradijs.comWhere is it? Not in this deck, my friend. While it can be extremely effective in Zekrom/Eels, I don’t find it to be all that useful here. While in Zekrom/Eels you should be Dynamotoring Turn 2, you don’t need that energy in the discard so early in Zebstrika/Eels. This is also why I only run 1 Juniper. I’m deathly afraid of throwing things away that I need.

Oak’s is just so much safer. And there’s not much in this deck you won’t wish you had later. Count on a Zebstrika being killed. It will happen fairly quickly, and you’ll have the two energy in the discard that you need to begin Dynamotoring.

Pokémon Search Cards

Between three Collector, four Level Ball, and one Communication, I find that I get what I need 95% of the time. A fourth Collector wouldn’t be bad, but I seem to be doing well with the mix that I have, so I’m gonna stick with it. While many may doubt my decisions, because of Zebstrika’s Item lock, there isn’t a rush to get set up as fast. Even so, I would say I’m set up T2 75% of the time. And by T3 95% of the time.


Two Switch is exactly what you need to get those Catchered Eels back on the bench. It’s rarely a problem, since you’re Item locking the opponent the majority of the time anyway, but sometimes you just really need it. Use one early and you increase the probability of accessing it when you need it since you’ve got four Junk Arm.

Lost Remover is too good in this format, Pokégear 3.0 is pretty great — but I could manage with one since it’s Junk Arm-able. Super Rod is there for when you need to recover some discarded Pokémon. PlusPower because it’s clutch, 10 extra damage can make all the difference; that 170 on Mewtwo EX can be reached nicely with PlusPower.

Rocky Helmet: I can never decide between this and PlusPower. It’s a great card, but whenever I play with two, I wish I had a PlusPower, whenever I play without it, I wish I had it. The 1/1 split between Rocky Helmet and PlusPower is perfect for me.


pokemon-paradijs.comAttach it to Zebstrika, it works wonders since you have to stream them turn after turn. It isn’t necessary, but it’s nice.

L Energy

I look at the count and I feel really uncomfortable with it. 10 seems really low. But that’s one in every 6 cards. You only ever need 1 to attach each turn. You’ll get it when you need it with this number. Remember that you’re Dynamotoring, so if you predict correctly, you’ll be able to avoid the necessity of drawing into energy and just Dynamotor in advance.

All in all, I find this list to be incredibly consistent, and I seem to have success with it. If anyone has comments or questions, I’d love to hear them.


Up to this point, the deck looks pretty similar to Zekrom/Eels, which is arguably the best deck in format due to ECC results. But I’d disagree; just look at the standings, Zebstrika showed up too!

The best way to explain how this deck runs is by demonstrating the ideal set up.

You start first, of course.

T1. Bench a free retreat Tynamo. Collector for two Blitzle and a Tynamo. Attach one energy to Blitzle, attack with Blitzle for 10 damage.

T2. Play the PONT you happen to have in hand, draw into a Zebstrika, a L Energy, some Level Ball, etc. Attach Lightning, evolve to Zebstrika, Level Ball for Eels. Start the Item lock T2 and stream Zebstrikas. Dynamotor to your Zekroms in the meantime.

I realize that not every start is this successful, but they happen fairly frequently due to the consistency of this decklist.

pokemon-paradijs.comFrom this point on, the goal is to prevent your opponent from ever setting up. If you choose to play this deck, know that most of your games will be won within the first few turns. The faster you get the lock going, the more you hinder your opponent’s setup the better. Though Zekrom/Eels players may be insulted, I’ll go ahead and say it anyway. Zebstrika/Eels is much more difficult to play, the nuances of a one-sided Item lock are hard to grasp.

The most challenging point in any game with this deck is deciding when to end the Item lock. Once you end the Item lock, expect a long turn from your opponent; they’ve been waiting to play Items all game. Choosing the right time to end the lock is crucial. Zebstrikas will be KO’d fairly quickly due to their low HP, but you can be several prizes down and still win if you can prevent their setup. I’ll try and illustrate this better with matchups.


While I’m no professional and much of this format’s nuances have yet to be seen, I’ve played a lot of games with this deck, and I think I have a pretty good grasp on the odds.

vs. Zekrom(EX)/Eels – 65/35

I think Zebstrika has a huge advantage over it’s rather simple and straight forward relative. I’ve played many-a-game against Zekrom/Eels. If you can start Catcher-ing and killing Tynamos, while maintaining the Item lock, you’ll win. Take as many cheap prizes you can, before they get a Zekrom stacked or their Eels set up. It’s definitely a bit of a speed race, but Disconnect should be able to bring you back from behind.

The biggest threat to your success: Zekrom-EX and Eviolite. Though I hate the card, it’s obviously a powerhouse. Hope to take this big-guy down with your Zekroms. Mewtwo EX is pretty ineffective because Strong Volt discards two energy. It’s all about preventing the opponent’s setup.

vs. CMT (Celebi/Mewtwo/Tornadus) – 45/55

Ugh. This matchup is awful. I really hate CMT, I just think the probability of a T1 80 is too good in any format. The problem here is going second. Honestly, I think that if you go second, you pretty much lose. It’s all luck here. You’ve got to hope for a good start and that your opponent has terrible draws. Tornadus has weakness, that’s nice. Lost Remover is effective. Celebi is an easy kill with Lightning Crash. But Catcher is practically useless since they’ll probably have Sky Arrow Bridge out.

pokemon-paradijs.comThe biggest downside to Zebstrika/Eels is that it just doesn’t do all that much damage, whereas Zekrom/Eels probably has a better chance due to the sheer amount of damage it can do. Again, Item lock them for as long as possible. Take cheap prizes when you can. This matchup is really tough and it takes a lot of skill to win. I’ve won nearly all my games against this deck, but they’re some of the toughest. I want this matchup to be 50/50, but it’s probably 45/55.

vs. Durant – 65/35

Yikes! The scary picnic ants. This matchup should be alright. Looking at the results of ECC again, Durant seems to be on its way out. Zekrom is simply a really effective ant-killer. You basically have 9 turns to win against Durant. If you can get a Zekrom loaded by T3 through manual attachment, you can probably Bolt Strike and Outrage your way to the win. Just be careful of that surprise Rotom. That’s just one way to win.

The other way is to use Zebstrika. If you can get a Zebstrika set up T2, you’re probably in good shape. Here’s where Eviolite can really shine for Durant. If your Durant opponent has placed a bunch of Eviolite already, you’re pretty much screwed, go get a Zekrom, quick! If Zebstrika’s doing 20 a turn, it takes four turns to kill one Durant. That’s half the game already.

BUT! If you can Item lock them T2, and prevent the use of Eviolite, you can 2-hit every single Durant. Because your opponent will be Item locked, they won’t be able to recover their dead ants. The math works in Zebstrika’s favor – you’ll win if you can prevent the Eviolite. It’s also nice to be able to set up a Zebstrika on the bench without worrying about Durant’s numerous Catchers. In my opinion, you’re in good shape against Durant.

vs. Magnezone/Eels – 70/30

This matchup is far easier than Zekrom/Eels. Since the opponent has to set up Stage 1s AND Stage 2s, it makes your life pretty easy. Zebstrika can prevent them from using Rare Candy to get Magnezone, and Magneton has a nice 80 HP, a perfect candidate for a Lightning Crash KO. Spare Thundurus and Zekrom your opponent might have can’t do it all on their own. This matchup isn’t hard if you play it right.

vs. ReshiPhlosion – 55/45

pokemon-paradijs.comThis matchup is hard. Just like every matchup, the goal is to prevent them from setting up. If you can’t Item lock them quick, you’re in a lot of trouble. It really helps if you go first. There are two problems in this matchup. Every Pokémon the opponent uses has a really high HP: Reshiram at 130, Typhlosion at 140, and Reshiram-EX at 180.

This makes for a difficult matchup simply because Zebstrika can’t do all that much damage. It’s also a challenge because Typhlosion can Afterburner and attach energy to the active, this means that Zebstrika can’t abuse the Catcher-Disconnect combo. Play this one carefully.

vs. Six Corners – 60/40

Again. These guys have a lot of HP, so it can be a tough matchup. Fortunately, all attachments are manual, so you should be able to outspeed them for the win.

vs. Electrode Prime Variants (Cake/Coke) – 70/30

Voltorbs are within that 40 HP Disconnect range. This deck relies a lot on Items and gives you a prize or two. It isn’t all that easy for them to get Electrodes when you’ve Disconnected their Communications. All in all, I like the odds here. Zekrom/Mewtwo EX/and Lost Remover are particularly effective here.

vs. The Truth – 70/30

Oddishes are easy bait for Zebstrika. It’s nice to start first so you can trainer lock them instead of them trainer locking you. Zebstrika can bench hit Gloom, so that’s a plus. If you can’t stop them from setting up, you can probably pile up enough damage to win.

Or, since most people aren’t familiar with Zebstrika yet, you can wait for your opponent to accidentally place too many damage counters on their benched Pokémon, which you can then Lightning Crash for the KO. Reuniclus is just barely out of range with 90 HP. This matchup should go smoothly.

vs. Mew/Vanilluxe/Vileplume – 70/30

pokemon-paradijs.comWe all know how good this deck is once it gets set up… so don’t let it. Zebstrika’s a great disruptor. As stated previously, if you play it right and get a decent start, you can prevent most decks from getting set up. Unless it’s 6 Corners or CMT, (or Durant, I guess) your opponent will have some Stage 1s or 2s, which increases your chances of winning by quite a bit.

vs. Chandelure – 90/10

Do I really need to discuss this one? Multiple Stage 2s and an essential Stage 1 (Dodrio) that Zebstrika can bench hit for the KO? This is easy. Although, I don’t expect Chandelure to see much play at all in this EX era.

Those are all the matchups that I find conceivable for this States season. Maybe you’ll come across some rogue decks or some Feraligatrs or Emboars, but the strategy to win against them should be pretty clear at this point, lock them up.


I definitely think that Zebstrika has a solid future. First let’s look at Dark Explorers (or Dark Rush as it’s called in Japan), the scans and translations have been released on Pokébeach.com, so reference that site if you need to see the cards I’m talking about. The release Raikou-EX in Dark Explorers will likely ruin Electric decks for the foreseeable future.

Before you freak out, allow me to explain. Raikou, for two Lighting and a Colourless energy, can hit a single benched Pokémon for 100 damage. This is only 20 damage more than Zebstrika, but it makes all the difference. With the release of Level Ball, there is some emphasis in the coming format on 90 HP Stage 1s. Here are a few important Pokémon that Raikou-EX will be able to one-hit that Zebstrika wasn’t able to: Reuniclus, Jumpluff, Roserade, Sharpedo, Cinccino, Zoroark, Roserade, Amoongus, and Eelektrik.

While this effectively ends decks like The Truth, it will also frustrate electric players to no end. Eelektrik is great because you can Level Ball for one, and it’s Ability to Dynamotor is the foundation for some of the best decks in format. But because it has 90 HP, Raikou-EX can one hit them every time. Raikou-EX has a few more things going for it as well. It has 170 HP and a single colourless Retreat Cost and it discards energy when it attacks.

BulbapediaWhat all this means — Raikou-EX can only be one-hit by a few Pokémon: Terrakion, “DarMAXitan,” Kyogre/Groudon Legend, etc. Plus it’s fairly immune to Mewtwo EX. The combination of Raikou-EX/Skyarrow Bridge/Max Potion/Eelektrik, is unbelievably good. It will be easy to switch off between two Raikou’s, bench hit every turn, and heal the damage with Max Potion, since Raikou-EX discarded all the energy anyway.

The problem with this deck (and this deck idea isn’t just mine, it’s all over the web) is that the mirror match will be pathetic. Raikou vs. Raikou will be a completely mindless race to destroy the opponent’s Eels. As if going first wasn’t already an incredible advantage already? In essence, whoever gets set up first will win.

Instead of fixing this unfair rule, a card called First Ticket will be released a few sets from now, which basically states that if you have it in your hand before the game begins, you can negate the flip results and go first. Now perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself and bring myself back to the main point. There is no reason why an Eelektrik deck shouldn’t run at least one Raikou-EX. In fact, if you don’t run Raikou-EX, you’ll be at a severe disadvantage.

This means that nearly every Electric matchup will be a stupid race that requires basically no skill to play, you’ll just count on good draws and the right coin flips. Zebstrika, I predict, will be the only way to turn the tides on a bad start in this matchup.

By Item locking your opponent, you should be able to hinder their setup enough where you can achieve the advantage. If I’m correct in my predictions, electric decks will suffer due to civil war before we ever get fighting Pokémon that can actually counter the strength of electric decks.

Let’s look even further toward the expected rotation. No one is quite sure how far the rotation will go, or if it will happen at all, but at some point Pokémon Collector and Vileplume will be rotated out. It’s more than likely that Zebstrika and Gothitelle will stay. Unless we see a re-release of Collector, Zebstrika will become far more important as the only viable Item locking card (assuming that we don’t get another Item locker).

pokemon-paradijs.comGothitelle simply will not be feasible with Mewtwo EX in the format. It’s a Stage 2, so it’s impossible to stream, and it has Psychic weakness, which makes it an easy kill for Mewtwo. Why am I talking about Item lock and Collector? Because unless Collector is re-printed, or a card similar to it comes out, we will be relying only on the Ball-Engine to get Pokémon.

While I really like the idea of the Ball-Engine (Poké-Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball, Level Ball…), it will be highly susceptible to Item lock. If you play Zebstrika, start first and get a T2 Item lock. The opponent may never have a chance to get more Pokémon on the bench before their only Pokémon gets Knocked Out.

This, in turn, raises the importance of all Basics and cards like Elgyem NVI, that can “Call for Family” and search out Basic Pokémon. There is no doubt in my mind that Zebstrika will become an increasingly important.

I’m done looking into the crystal ball. I hope after reading this article, you’ll have come to love Zebstrika as much as I do. I have a lukewarm feeling about writing this article. I had hoped that Zebstrika would be my little secret, but after I saw its success at ECC, I figured it would only be a matter of time before the secret was out. So go ahead, play Zebstrika at States, I would certainly recommend it.

I’m glad you’ve reached the end of this article despite my ramblings. I know my friends never believed me when I said Zebstrika would be great, but they believe me now. Hopefully you’ll be able to convince your friends too. Thanks so much for reading. Have a wonderful spring; best wishes and good luck to you wherever you may be playing.

Reader Interactions

46 replies

  1. Frank Hamilton

    Glad to see Zebstrika’s getting some front page love.

  2. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    Nice article + adorable picture of Zebstrika = +2

    Being the 7,914th person to use that godawful list clip art in a 6P article = -1

    So this gets a Like from me.

  3. theo Seeds

    You don’t need a PlusPower to KO Yanmas and Doduos with Disconnect, they have Lightning weakness.

    Good article, however, and yes, the title really did make me want to read it.

    • andrew milad  → theo

      That’s a great point! I didn’t even take into account all the things that Zebstrika can easily KO with weakness.

        • theo Seeds  → mike

          No, if you were to think just a bit more you would remember that Mantine HS is the BlastZel starter, I know that’s not played very much but it’s still another thing OHKOed by Disconnect.

        • Eli Norris  → theo

          Blastzel? That must be around tier 3 or 4 by now I would think. Major weakness to BDIF (Zekrom/Eels) and the fact that there is Pokemon Catcher now.

  4. airhawk06

    Great article. I hope more stuff like this forces people to realize that the format does have a bit more complexity than the CMT, Zeels, do a ton of damage on turn two decks.

    I love Disconnect. I think it is a great attack. I honestly overlooked/refused to believe it was good since it was spoiled. But after some testing the last week (a few people here really like it), I became a believer. I’m not sure it’s as food as Zeels against the field or CMT, but it is solid.

    • andrew milad  → airhawk06

      Time will tell whether this deck is more or less effective against the field than Zek/Eels. But I wouldn’t ignore the value of Trainer-lock against every deck and I’ll mention that Zebstrika, interestingly, does an incredibly effective job at neutering Zekrom/Eels in return. It’s definitely a complex deck and it takes a lot of skill to play. After States we’ll likely know much better how it stands.

  5. Eli Norris

    Great article! Just one thing though- I am pretty sure that the word is “effective” in paragraph one.

    • Lynx Meche  → Eli

      I have no idea what you’re talking about =)

      (Fixed it, was about to change it but then noticed you pointed it out in the comments.)

    • andrew milad  → Eli

      I was wondering if someone would mention that. :) I definitely made a conscious effort to say A-ffective instead of effective. The difference is that affect describes a force that actively changes the status quo, whereas effect indicates the result of prior change. My claim is that Mewtwo EX is not good as a result of the change in format, rather it is a dominant force causing the change.

      • Eli Norris  → andrew

        Except there has already been the ECC and proof that Mewtwo EX is an effective card in the format. It has already affected the metagame greatly, as every top deck (besides Durant) uses at LEAST 1, usually 2.

        Mewtwo EX is an effective card when it comes to changing the format.

        • andrew milad  → Eli

          Haha. It really is both affective and effective, but we’re really getting into ridiculous semantics here.

  6. Adam Bigott

    Not sure I am 100% sold on the degree of the favorable matchups or that this deck could even touch the truth but overall a nice article.

    • airhawk06  → Adam

      I can vouch for this deck’s effectiveness against the Truth, if it hits a turn two or turn three Zebstrika. Then you can Catcher up Oddish and OHKO them. Even more, your opponent cannot go Twins -> Rare Candy -> Vileplume, because of the trainer lock. So, then you just take out the second Oddish or at least damage the Gloom so that you can snipe it next turn. After taking those easy prizes you can use Zekrom and Mewtwo EX to OHKO or 2HKO anything in the Truth, including Reunicilus because the Vileplume is neutralized.

      I do think that it is very good against Magne/Eels, if you get a turn two Zebstrika. Denying Rare Candy is just rough. I do think it is closer to 60/40 than 70/30.

      The only one I really question is the Zeels match up. If your opponent is smart about keeping an energy on Eelektriks (so that you can just drop one energy from the hand to retreat after you Catcher it). I have found this match up to be 50/50 at best.

        • airhawk06  → Adam

          Yeah turn 2two plumes can happen but are extremely rare. Donphan can hurt but, 1) you can catcher/disconnect around it or 2) most people are moving away from the elephant. This would have big problema against donphan and dragons

        • Cabd  → airhawk06

          I think at this point, t2 plume in truth is needed enough to sacrifice LOTS of space for. It deserves the 4 candy 4 comm setup; if your meta has fast decks, which every large meta will.

        • airhawk06  → Cabd

          I completely agree. Heck, I suggested 4 Gear to assure you of the turn 1 Collector and turn 2/3 twins. But, even with 4 Candy, 4 Comm the turn two is still not much better than 50-60%. Zebstrika just punishes the Truth if it gets off Disconnect before Vileplume.

        • andrew milad  → airhawk06

          Played a game today against the Truth where it was able to get off the T2 Vileplume before I could disconnect. Even then, Truth players have to be incredibly careful about where they put their damage counters since Zebstrika can bench hit for 80. If you can pile on enough damage with Zekrom, you can still break Truth-Lock. Plus. Stunfisk is really fun against Regigigas. AND Mewtwo EX vs. the Truth is way easy. Just stack energy and break the wall.

          Truth players–please play Damagriuus. It’s just too cool.

      • andrew milad  → airhawk06

        I want to say that I’m really thrilled that you’re commenting so much on the article, you’ve made some great points. As far as the Zeels matchup goes, the object, as I hope was clearly stated in the article, is to prevent Eels from being set up. If the Eels do get set up, one should be able to manipulate Catcher and trainer lock for sufficient disruption. But even so, the matchup does get significantly more difficult. With Zebstrika, if you allow your opponent to set up, you’ve already lost half the match and missed the entire point. Because Zebstrika is so effective at disrupting set-up, I have to argue that it’s quite good against Magnezone. Prevent the Mag/Eels player from setting up Eels! I haven’t seen any Magnezone deck that can deal sufficient damage turn after turn without their Eels. Even so, I could perhaps compromise to 65/35.

        Please continue to comment, I’m quite interested.

        • airhawk06  → andrew

          Yeah, I agree it’s very good against MagneEels. The reason why it isn’t 70/30 is because MagneEels can just change course and play like Zeels.

          Now, the problem with Zeels is that they don’t have to have Items to get Eelektriks out. Collector and raw draw power tends to get one or two Eels out. After that point, they just need to be meticulous with energy drops to keep from being stalled out. And they have more big attackers (and some are running 3-4 DCE to help power up M2EX and they kinda screw the Catcher/Disconnect combo).

          I would say that if you opponents have been having issues getting Eelektriks out, either 1) the deck list is not great or 2) they are not playing it correctly.

          That being said, I think that 50/50 is a solid match up against arguably the BDIF.

          On another note, I hate Stunfisk in here. Sorry. It got hype in the past, and didn’t pan out. It is just too fragile and doesn’t do enough damage. I think you should just have two Mewtwo EX instead.

    • andrew milad  → Adam

      I totally understand your concern regarding the matchups, I hesitated to even write them because it’s so difficult to predict when tournament data hasn’t been released. Even so, I decided to write them up to show how good this deck is. I’ve played nearly every single matchup at least 5 times. Anything that I haven’t played multiple times, like Chandelure, has a fairly obvious outcome. I’ve actually played The Truth the most out of any matchup, and I’ve lost only one or two games against very respected players. Allow me to elaborate on why this deck is so good against Stage 2’s, especially the Truth. Zebstrika vs. The Truth is a race to establish trainer lock. The decklist I designed is consistent enough that there are very few games that I don’t set up a Disconnecting Zebstrika by T2. The games that I don’t get Zebstrika set up early probably account for that 30 percent loss (I actually think this matchup is like 80/20, but I didn’t want to go overboard). If you can go first against the Truth, and you can get the T2 Zebstrika, which is incredibly easy, your opponent should never be able to get a Vileplume set up. When you’ve disabled Communications, and can one-hit Oddishes, by the 3rd or 4th turn, you’ve already won the game. If you can Disconnect before they have a Vileplume, you can Lighting Crash Glooms for 80 and the KO, and your opponent will never be able to Rarecandy to get the Vileplume. Additionally consider that The Truth runs zero energy acceleration. Once you’ve prevented the possibility of a Vileplume, end the lock and pound away with Zekrom or stack a Mewtwo EX. Even if The Truth is able to get a Vileplume and a Reuniclus set up, this deck can still do a ton of damage with Mewtwo and Zekrom, probably enough to force the opponent to KO their own Pokemon or place damage counters on Reuniclus or Vileplume (which then puts them in Zebstrika range). Again, the matchup is 70/30, it isn’t a guaranteed win by Zebstrika, it’s just highly probably. I don’t mean to bash the Truth, it is a brilliant strategy, but I don’t think it holds up in this format because Mewtwo EX can break that damage barrier. Even Pokemon with 180hp aren’t safe. The wall that The Truth relied on no longer exists, therefore, I can’t see it living much longer. –Oh, and Raikou EX effectively kills it forever since it hits for 100, just enough to KO Reuniclus.

      • airhawk06  → andrew

        I think your estimates are relatively close, but 5 games is definitely not a large enough sample to rely on

        • Eli Norris  → airhawk06

          Yeah, 5 games does not really show how decks stand up against each other. I haven’t tested Zebstrika myself, but I would probably test a lot more before you can really determine the percentages.

        • andrew milad  → Eli

          I tried not to include any deck that I hadn’t played at least 5 times, I think Chandelure and Reshiphlosion were the only two that were so low. Everything else had between 10 and 20 trials. I think that’s a reasonable amount of testing in a months time. Nonetheless, it’s good to see debate over the effectiveness of Zebstrika and the matchups it faces. I definitely encourage everyone to conduct their own testing and post the results. Thanks everyone for your comments/concerns/etc.

        • andrew milad  → airhawk06

          That’s definitely true and a big flaw of this article. Its pretty tough to get 10 or 15 games against every deck. The matchups should be considered more as thesis statements, further testing is needed, but the theory is there and games were consistent.

  7. Mark Hanson

    I know how you feel. Zebstrika was mine and my friend’s secret pleasure from NDE that we were looking to unleash. I don’t think many people could have possibly predicted how disruptive a 40 damage trainer-item lock would be by T2. I’d almost say that I’d give Zebstrika vs. Durant a better matchup just because T2 Disconnect is just so devestating to Durant. On top of that, Durant gets a prized ant every now and then, and has no chance of beating this deck if it only starts with 3 ants. 70-30 or 75-25 is probably more accurate, even against the best of Durant players (and I’ve got one in my house to test with :)).

    I’d also parrot the sentiments below that though Zebstrika is great, it’s really not a 65/35 matchup against ZekEels. It’s 50/50 at best and maybe even tipped in ZekEels’ favour. This is mainly because of the coin flip format we have going. Ignoring the first turn rule, (say the game started at T2) I would give ZekEels a 55/45, but since the difference is slight, and it’s really just win the coin flip to win the game, the matchup is really 50/50.

    • andrew milad  → Mark

      Zeels cannot win without Eelektriks/, if Zebstrika can KO Tynamo quickly enough, the game has already been decided. I played several Zeels games tonight and no opponent was ever able to set up more than one Eel. I’ll concede that the matchup probably isnt 65/35, but if you get reasonable draws and play the game right, the matchup isn’t so onesided. I can only suggest that one test the matchup. But States will really determine the answer.

      • Mark Hanson  → andrew

        “if Zebstrika can KO Tynamo quickly.” That’s my problem. Both ZekEels and ZebEels are so consistent that either will be set up by T2 >75% of the time. This just makes the matchup up to the coin flip, which is why it’s such a 50/50 matchup. And Durant with eviolite is definitely harsh, but you can catcher up a non-eviolited Durant to get past it.

        • Edgar F  → Mark

          I have not seen “75% T2”. For one thing, 50% of the time, the Zebstrika player is going first anyway, and can shut them down before they can evolve, forcing them to gamble search cards T1 (hint: play a higher N count if you want to punish this behaviour) or draw into their eels. On their second turn, I’d say about 75% of the time you can count on ONE Eelektrik hitting the board. Two seems to be a bit shy of 50%, and all three on turn 2 usually means their hand is now dead (or they got a god draw, scoop and blame the inconsistent format).

          So even if they do get one Eel in play, it’s usually best to keep catching up Tynamos, and Disconnecting them to prevent more from coming in. Then just mop up their eels at the end.

          The big problem I have with Zebstrika-heavy ZEels is it still has problems with CMT.

        • Mark Hanson  → Edgar

          I didn’t mean fully set up. I was more talking about what you mentioned. By T2 they’ve got an Eelektrik and they’ve usually got a good compliment of basics. And though Zekeels likes two eels, one can usually suffice.

          But yeah, if you do get the Zebstrika out and catchering T2 (which you probably can if you dedicate yourself to it) then later game you can definitely catcher and bolt strike their one eel on bench to really take control of the game. Fair enough.

          ZebZEels vs. CMT eh? It’s funny cause I find my ZekEels as it is right now destroys my CMT just because Tornadus can’t hold it’s own and Mewtwo just initiates the Mewtwo race and CMT ends up on the wrong end of the stick. I run 3 Thundurus and a Terrakion with 2 F energy in my list though. So finding room for a 2-2 Zebra line would be simple. I’d probably just ditch Thundurus and Terrakion and go for full L energy. If I wanted to run 3-2 Zebra then a decision would have to be made :P

        • Edgar F  → Mark

          Thundurus is too key to setup; you definitely don’t want to be left without the option. Cutting to 1 thundurus if you have enough free retreaters is an idea, though. The question is, though: is Terrakion better in mirror?

        • Mark Hanson  → Edgar

          Tough to say. Terrakion makes a terrible starter in all matchups, whereas Blitzle doesn’t. It’s also dead weight against Mewtwo so adding a zebra isn’t a big deal since neither make the matchup any better (and adding zebras makes energy accel more efficient).

          I agree on the merits of Thundurus, but it would be the first thing I’d take out to find space for Zebras. I’m only looking to attach 2 energy by T2 and at that point I’m disrupting my opponent’s setup so I’m probably forgiven for a slightly slower start. But really I don’t think the start is that much slower between starting Thundurus and Zebra.

          Thundurus can’t be donked by a Mewtwo though. And even if you get first turn setup, you have to get the heads flip to avoid a DCE Mewtwo donk. This being a problem not in CMT, but against the mirror running Mewtwo.

  8. Johnny Y

    Contemplating running 2-2 Zebstrika in my Zektrik deck.. Maybe I will since I don’t have Mewtwo EX.

  9. Roarkiller Master

    I think you’re understating the usefulness of pluspower in this deck. Double disconnect and pluspower kills the eels. And after they lose the eels, pluspower helps zekrom KO other zekroms.

    And I think you’re overestimating the durant matchup. Durant doesn’t need to revive if it can just retreat and use a fresh durant to attack, and it’s not as easy to get out a catcher/junk arm. And decks running rescue energy will just tear you apart. There’s also FSL. AND rotom 2HKOs zebstrika, unless you break the lock.

    So sorry, but 65-35 is pushing it too far.

    • andrew milad  → Roarkiller

      Since you can use Zekrom OR Zebstrika. I’m gonna say the matchup is correct. Durant isn’t showing up in Top Cut like it used to because of Zekrom.

  10. Steven Nilsen

    Judge > N. No complaints, just an opinion. I like this deck a lot!

    Crushing hammer is great here too. I would include it before communication. Good Rod fits in with this tactic too.

    Can Weavile fit into this?! Just a 2-1 line, with a Seeker. Claw Snag after N/Judge with Diconnect = OUCH.

  11. andrew milad

    Well guys. I made top cut at Michigan States today. Had some rough luck getting paired up with the same CMT player that destroyed me earlier in the day. I’m just glad to see that Zebstrika proved worthy. I’ll adjust that CMT matchup to 40/60 and leave it at that.

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