An odd request was made on the forums by lufan131, for the secret rare Pikachu BLW. It’s a card whose value may be judged only by its rarity rather than its usefulness in format. One doesn’t need to read an article to know that Raichu hasn’t exactly left an impact on the format like fellow Lightning-types Zekrom BLW or Eelektrik NVI. Terrakion isn’t teched into any decks to counter Raichu, after all.
So with this in mind, I wasn’t sure how to go about this at first. And then I decided hey, why not just look at all the Pikachu? It’s a fan favorite and parents of older Pokémon players will still flinch at the mention of its name in fear of it being followed by countless bad imitations. Can’t go wrong by looking at somebody that we grew up with (even if it is being replaced as a mascot by Water-type starters), so here are the Pikachu in format and how they work with the various Raichu.
Well…there are five Pikachu in format. Suddenly I’m less excited to dive in and rediscover the finicky little mouse. To make this a little bit shorter than it will inevitably be, there are two stats that every Pikachu share. The first is that they all have a single Retreat Cost, which is pretty good. Pretty excusable since none of them have a Light Ball. The second is that they all have a Fighting Weakness, like every Lightning type. This isn’t very notable at this point.
First Pikachu I’m covering is the HGSS promo (Pikachu HS Promo HGSS03). Its best stat is probably that it has 70 HP, definitely noteworthy compared to the others. Also noteworthy is its weakness: it may have a Fighting Weakness like I mentioned before, but it’s a +10 Fighting Weakness, and is the only Pokémon in format with such a weakness. This means that Terrakion, when not fully powered, cannot 1HKO a Pikachu.
It also has something I’m excited to see: Metal Resistance. There isn’t much Metal played at the moment, but I’ll take what I can get. So far it’s looking like a winner, and we haven’t even seen the others.
Pikachu HGSS, not promo, is pretty dull in comparison. It has 60 HP, 10 less than the above. The Weakness is back to x2 as is every Pikachu after this one, so it’s a little disappointing after seeing those remnants of the Arceus set. Another Metal Resistance, but that wouldn’t do much good until after rotation (which is debatable) unless a new deck is discovered.
Pikachu UD is next, and there’s not too much to this one. It has the Metal Resistance again, but at this rate it won’t do much good. 50 HP is the lowest of all of these cards. It’s just a small mouse, but Zekrom won’t look at Pikachu and say, “It’s okay, you’re a mouse, I won’t hit you hard because it’s not your fault you have low HP.”
This is the star Pikachu, secret rare Pikachu BLW. Again, 60 HP, nothing different there, With that weakness it won’t last long against deck with Fighting types, but it’s better than 50. Something of note, it’s possible that with rotation, this Pikachu and the one from NXD are going to be the only two. Unless we go UD-on or even earlier we won’t have any other Pikachu, although it remains to be seen if we’ll even want or need them. The point to this is that unlike the previous Lightning-type Pokémon, it has no Resistance. Metal is irrelevant and all, but it’s still a loss.
Stat-wise, Pikachu NXD isn’t any different. 60 HP again and still no Resistance. Nintendo why would you suddenly change this “Lightning resists Metal” pattern? Just reread the above if you want to read something about it, or go down to the next section.
Promo Pikachu HGSS03 Attacks
pokemon-paradijs.comThere are nine different attacks between these cards, so what I’m going to do is briefly cover the attacks and only focus on the ones that are relevant to anything. And Pikachu HGSS03 is relevant. Its first attack is called Recharge, and it’s actually kind of cool for coming from HGSS. It costs C, and if you get heads on a coin flip, you put a L Energy from your deck onto Pikachu.
Like Reversal and Catcher, this Pikachu is like a weakened Thundurus. You wouldn’t run it as a replacement Thundurus, but if you had a Raichu deck and Thundurus was prized or you just can’t get it, there are worse options than this attack.
The second attack is Thunderbolt with a heavy cost of LLCC. It does 100 damage and you discard all Energy on Pikachu. A little like a primitive Raikou-EX, actually. This Pikachu is a bit ahead of its time, but putting both attacks put together doesn’t necessarily make it a good card. Not worth the cost compared to what you could be using, but you don’t have to attack with it.
Pikachu HS Attacks
This is pretty basic, especially in comparison to the previous one. The first attack is Tail Slap, with a cost of C. It does 10 vanilla damage. It on almost every Basic Pokémon, but it’s still lame. The second attack is Quick Attack, LC cost. If you win a coin flip, 20 damage +10¸ and 20 damage if you flip tails. This is pretty irrelevant to anything in the long run and won’t be brought up much more often, so that’s one off the list.
Pikachu UD Attacks
This is the only Pikachu with one attack, so that’s already disappointing. Slam costs C, something almost turning into a trend with Pikachu. Flip two coins, and it does 10 damage for each heads. Not very good, especially with the 50 HP. It will also be mostly forgotten, two Pikachu down.
Of note, if any of you played TCGO when it was still new (before the NVI patch at least), you may be just as plagued by the Basic Yellow deck with Pikachu and Raichu Prime as I was. It wasn’t uncommon to play with a meta deck and be paired against somebody playing Basic Yellow, only to be told that it’s unfair to play a real deck in beta followed by a rage quit. This is the most prominent the card has ever been.
Pikachu BLW Attacks
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is the first Pikachu with a first attack that costs L instead of C, but this makes very little difference. Energize is a little like Eelektrik NV, actually; you attach an L Energy from your discard to Pikachu. We know how easy it is to get Energy in your discard on the first turn between Engineer’s Adjustments, Junk Arm, and Ultra Ball, so if your main attacker is a Raichu, this is a good attack to have.
Thunderbolt costs LCC, a cost that’s easy to achieve. You have to discard all Energy attached to Pikachu (tip: don’t use DCE to power this cost), but it does 80 damage. This is pretty good for a Basic that isn’t your main attacker, especially a Pikachu.
If you can’t evolve it the second turn for any reason, you should easily be able to attack with it and deal 80 damage, exactly like Thundurus EP (and Tornadus EP, by extension). The Energy is easily recovered if you end up needing to do this. Luckily for lufan131, this is a usable Pikachu.
Pikachu NXD Attacks
Pikachu NXD’s Thundershock isn’t anything special. For L, 10 damage, and if you get heads on a coin flip, the Defending Pokémon is Paralyzed. This is on a lot of Pokémon, including one of the most-used Tynamo, so it’s not something most Lightning decks require.
Tail Whap is a pretty cute name for an attack. CC and it does 20 damage. Vanilla attack, not really useful. If this were more useful this might be worth talking about, but this leaves us only with Pikachu HGSS03 and Pikachu BLW.
It’s hard to talk about how good a Pikachu may do without knowing what deck it would go in. So I’m briefly covering the Raichu in format with it. The first is Raichu HS. 90 HP, Fighting Weakness, Metal Resistance, and a neat zero Retreat Cost. A Stage 1 with 90 HP isn’t great for this format, but low HP is a theme here.
Iron Tail costs C, and has made it capable of a league deck. Flip a coin until you get tails, and it does 30 damage for every heads. Paired with Victini, you can potentially do a bit of damage for one Energy of any type.
Thunderbolt is a decent attack also, for a Pokémon that shouldn’t see much play. For LL, it does 100 damage and you discard all Energy attached to Raichu. Free retreat and Eelektrik means you can swarm these as long as they aren’t consistently 1HKO’d.
pokemon-paradijs.comSame stats as Raichu HS, but its HP drops to 80. It’s going to take a lot to make this useable, but spoilers, it’s not very usable. First attack is Pain-full Punch (which is also a terrible attack name), which does 30 damage for C. Spark is next, with an LC cost. It does 40 damage, and then 20 to any of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon. While sniping has been a pretty big deal lately, this isn’t enough and this Raichu is going to be entirely forgotten.
This one is actually used in an existing lower-tier deck with Eelektrik, and it won a few small tournaments as a cheaper version of Zekeel and Raikou/Eels. An increased 100 HP, Fighting Weakness and Metal Resistance again, but a raised one Retreat Cost. Its Poké-Power, Voltage Increase, lets you move all the L Energy you want from any other Pokémon to Raichu. This means that if Raichu Prime is Active, Eelektrik’s limitation of only attaching to the Bench is gone.
This Power would be a bit redundant after a while if it would only power up its attack and be done. But its only attack, Mega Thunderbolt, not only does 120 damage for LLC, it discards all Energy attached to Raichu. This would be a hindrance if you didn’t have at least two Eelektrik on your Bench and the capability of getting one Energy in your hand.
This one also isn’t very great, but there is something great about it. Look at how happy he is with his balloons. And then look at the guy off to the right. His expression sums up everything about a two-and-a-half foot mouse marching down the middle of the road holding balloons. But that’s about all that’s noteworthy about this card.
90 HP, Fighting Weakness, no Resistance, and a one Retreat Cost. Stat-wise, this is probably the worst of the four between that Retreat and the lack of Resistance that plagues BLW-on. The first attack, Thundershock, gets a slight power up from the Pikachu of the same set. Costs L and still Paralyzes on a coin flip, but it deals 20 damage instead of 10. The second attack is Slam, costs LCC, and you flip two coins. It does 80 damage for each heads; again, not that great and not terribly useful.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis has been brought up a few times before, because just about any Lightning deck right now has to have a thick Eelektrik line to be successful. This works to the advantage of a Raichu deck not only because of how the good Raichu work, but also because of the two useable Pikachu. Pikachu HGSS03 discards four Energy, and Pikachu BLW discards three.
Both can charge up future Dynamotors if you can’t get a Raichu out by the second turn, so lost Energy won’t hurt as long as you can have multiple Eelektrik by the time you do get the Raichu.
A short section just to cover a fact about all of these cards. Excluding Raichu Prime, every single one of these cards, including the Eelektrik and Tynamo, can be searched out with Level Ball. With this fact, the deck can run on Level Ball and Ultra Ball (to discard more L Energy) throughout the whole game.
One of the problems with Level Ball is that once you’ve set up, you aren’t generally going to need any more, but a deck with these Pokémon, especially one centered around Raichu HS, can safely run a high count.
Another short mention of something that needs to be brought up. Whenever a Basic is discussed, it’s almost always said that it “has X Retreat Cost, but Y with SAB.” Does it apply to any Pikachu? Probably not, because unless this is something like a teched Raichu line in a Raikou/Thundurus deck, you won’t be running a copy of your own. It’s a common enough Stadium that there’s a good chance you opponent will be playing it, but otherwise, prepare to discard the one Energy for its Retreat Cost.
HGSS03 vs BLW
The big question on strategy is which Pikachu is best to use. It’s entirely a personal matter, so the best I can do is lay out the key notes of the two. (However, I think Pikachu BLW is used more often, because it can attack earlier.)
- 10 more HP
- Flippy version of Thundurus
- 100 damage
- Four Energy in discard means more early Dynamotor Energy
- Metal is an uncommon attacking type, Resistance is a novelty
- Can’t attack until the third turn, when you should normally have a Raichu
- If you’re running Raichu for a budget deck, this one is cheaper
- 60 HP means it’s 1HKO’d turn 1 by any attacker in CMT
- Personal Eelektrik as an attack
- Three Energy means it attacks by turn 2
- 80 damage is less than 100, but still the same as Tornadus/Thundurus
- Secret rares are usually pricey no matter how usable, but popular hobby games are always expensive if you want to be top notch
Because five cards is too many to review for just the artwork, I’m only doing Pikachu BLW for this. Unfortunately, this card only exists as a holo, which means the color is dulled in exchange to make it shiny. Very few Pikachu cards ever printed aren’t brightly colored, and border over-saturation in some cases, and with the sunny, grassy background it looks like this one was meant to be just as bright. A little photo editing to make it brighter clears it up a lot and looks nice.
The background looks nice, with just layer upon layer for each section, between the sky and the hills, with Pikachu pasted on top. The tufts of grass and flowers in the foreground are nicely detailed, while the grass and trees in the background all have splotchy colors, keeping them clear but not too in focus. It’s part of what makes it look like the colors were supposed to be brighter than the scans and holo pattern show.
Pikachu looks like it’s actually halfway through tripping over – it’s even kicking up dirt like that’s what it slipped on – but it at least looks happy. Generally Pikachu card art has two versions: impossibly happy or trying to look dangerous. This one is in the vein of adorable and happy about existence itself. The proportions are correct, and the shadows on Pikachu make its fur look very shiny, and not just because of the holofoil. It’s a good picture, very cute.
There isn’t much I could say about Pikachu BLW, since it isn’t a deck focus and won’t see more than a couple turns of play. Any further into it would be a deck discussion, or at least have more focus on Raichu than Pikachu. As a Basic that still needs to evolve, it’s hard to rate because you can’t fairly compare it to something that spends time on the field.
But for rating synergy with the Pokémon it evolves into (either Raichu HS or Raichu Prime), I give it a solid 8/10 for usable attacks and synergy with the Pokémon that’s supposed pair with its evolution, but it still has that donkable 60 HP that Tornadus EX laughs at.