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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Zekrom EX

Next Destinies

Date Reviewed: Feb. 15, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.33
Limited: 4.08

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Combos With: See Below

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

#8 Zekrom-EX

Well, if you have a Reshiram in a set, it follows that you are also going to get a Zekrom, I guess. The card in question makes it to #8 on our top 10 from Next Destinies.

In fact the card is pretty similar to its fiery counterpart. It shares the enormous 180 HP and the annoying three Energy Retreat cost (again, play Switch). Zekrom’s Fighting Weakness is a little bit more of a problem though: Terrakion NV is a good tech choice for a lot of decks, and although it gets reduced play these days, Donphan Prime is still a threat.

Another similarity comes with the first attack, Glinting Claw: 50 damage for [L][C][C] and a coin flip for 30 more. I guess putting Outrage on these guys would have been a bit much (or maybe not . . . as we shall see tomorrow). Once more, this is something to use if you don’t need, or don’t have the Energy for Zekrom’s second attack.

Strong Volt certainly lives up to its name by delivering 150 damage for [L][L][C][C]. On the upside, it will OHKO practically anything that isn’t an EX, but not, unfortunately, Donphan Prime. On the downside, you have to discard two Energy when you use it. This can be an issue as Lightning decks don’t quite have the same access to convenient acceleration as Fire. There’s the Pachirisu/Shaymin combo, but they are a one-shot deal using coming-into-play PokéPowers. There’s Eelektrik NV too, but that will only attach to Benched Pokémon. All is not lost however, as the requirement is to discard two Energy. In other words, the fact that it doesn’t specify the Type, or use the term Energy cards means that the discard can be done with Double Colourless. This is a lot less painful and makes consecutive Strong Volts possible as long as you have another DCE in hand.

Just like Reshiram, I see Zekrom-EX as a very good card but not one that is necessarily that much better than the non-EX version. I can definitely see one or two copies of it being put into Lightning decks such as Magnezone/Eelektrik or Zekrom/Eelektrik for another heavy hitting option. What I don’t see are decks based around Zekrom-EX, or decks in which it replaces Zekrom BW altogether.

Rating

Modified: 3.5 (yay, Lightning decks got another powerful attacker)

Limited: 4 (Tanking and using Glinting Claw will probably win most games on its own)


Otaku

Zekrom (the non-Pokémon EX version) was our pick for the second best card of 2011, beaten out only by the Item Pokémon Catcher. Zekrom EX managed to take the number eight slot for our Top 10 Promising Picks of BW: Next Destinies.

Is that shocking?

Stats

Zekrom EX doesn’t count as the “old” Pokémon ex, but this really only matters in Unlimited and for certain card interactions. Just like their predecessors Pokémon EX are worth two Prizes when KOed, unless an effect like the Poké-Body Space Virus (from Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND) is applied, which would result in three Prizes drawn (not that I expect that to be a common occurrence). Since Zekrom EX is worth two Prizes, the rest of the card’s stats and its effects will need to be significantly better than an equivalent single Prize Pokémon, and in this case that is a pretty high bar: we ranked the non-Pokémon EX Zekrom the number two overall card (though it was the highest ranking Pokémon!) last year for good reason. I would hope that it ends up being better than the most obvious equivalent Pokémon (Zekrom) by a significant margin, but even if it is (adjusting for scale) inferior, I would hope it was at least on par with a Stage 1, perhaps even one that is the pinnacle of its Evolutionary line.

As a Basic Pokémon, Zekrom EX is well supported in this format, with several cards that benefit Basic Pokémon (and only Basic Pokémon), on top of the inherent advantages of Basic Pokémon (requiring less space to run and being the easiest Stage to put into play). As a Lightning-Type Pokémon doesn’t really add that much to the card; the relevant support I’ve seen actually focuses on Lightning-Type Energy, not the Pokémon Type itself. Still Lightning decks are again formidable this format, so there is a ready infrastructure for the card. In terms of type matching, being Lightning Weak has been a veritable death sentence this format, so expect it to be rarer than the actual overall amount of Lightning Weak Pokémon printed would suggest.

Like Reshiram EX, Zekrom EX has a massive 180 HP, which for now at least is the best they have to offer. The old school Pokémon ex that were Basics, by comparison, weren’t allowed to top the “natural” HP cap of Basic Pokémon at the time (which was 120 HP). With power creep it can be hard to get an idea of how much more significant this is, but I’d say it is promising. Wailord ex (EX: Sandstorm 100/100) and Wailord (DP: Great Encounters 30/106), neither of which are currently legal, still hold the record at 200 HP. Not including reprints, only five other cards have hit 180 HP, four of which are still legal and three of which are other Pokémon EX.

Fighting Weakness is tricky to evaluate: we have some really great Fighting Pokémon that seem to be struggling to form a reliable deck. Right now you mostly have to worry about someone still trying to make Donphan Prime work (which is very well might, my current view of the game is rather limited) or 6 corners slapping Zekrom EX upside the head with Terrakion. Some support cards which hit this set make me wonder if this could change soon, so be cautious about it. The Resistance is non-existent, but as I stated in the Reshiram EX review, when you’re setting a record HP score for a Basic Pokémon (even a Pokémon EX) having no Resistance is better than a double Weakness, so enjoy another rare moment of me not complaining about this.

Another moment of repeating myself is the Retreat Cost. Technically a three Energy Retreat cost is terrible: if you have the Energy to pay it, it still will still rarely be worth Retreating, and a good deal of the time you won’t have the Energy anyway! Fortunately if you’re running a Basic Pokémon heavy deck you can run Skyarrow Bridge to drop that down to a slightly more manageable Retreat Cost of two, though Switch is probably the better option. Still there is a silver lining: Heavy Ball can legally snag this from your deck since it has such a chunky Retreat Cost.

Effects

As seems to be standard for the new Pokémon EX, Zekrom EX has two attacks. The pricing structure is familiar, again mirroring Reshiram EX by having a three Energy and a four Energy attack. Not only does it follow a similar cost pattern, substituting the Fire Energy requirements for Lightning Energy requirements, but the first attack is actually the exact same: Glinting Claw! Here it costs (LCC), and that still gives the more or less good return of 50 base damage plus another 30 on top of that if you get “heads” on a mandatory coin toss. It isn’t brilliant, but it will do, especially if you just need something inexpensive to hit Lightning Weakness.

So what about the big attack? Reshiram EX had Brave Fire and I didn’t think it was especially good. Zekrom EX has Volt Strike for (LLCC) and requiring you discard two Energy, but hitting for 150. So is this another misfire like Brave Fire? Nope. Brave Fire did a good hunk of self-damage on a Pokémon worth two Prizes and that required four Energy to boot. Zekrom EX may burn Energy, but that’s easier to cope with, and Glinting Claw will be a more useful fallback when the Pokémon it is printed on isn’t risking almost a third of its maximum HP on its big attack.

Double Colorless Energy is an even better combo piece here: it allows both attacks to hit a turn faster, but can also fill the full Energy discard cost of Volt Strike. This means even without any other form of Energy acceleration, a Zekrom EX can start hitting second turn, and then get off up to four massive attacks through Volt Strike. The forms of Energy acceleration regularly (and even currently not) employed in Lightning decks will work just as well for Zekrom, though ones that attach to the Bench will require some extra finessing. Coupled with needing just one or two sources of Lightning Energy (for Glinting Claw and Volt Strike, respectively) makes Zekrom EX an effective off-type splash: you just need Rainbow Energy and/or Prism Energy if the deck doesn’t have any Lightning Energy at all.

Usage

Zekrom EX has a place in most decks that already use Zekrom. I am uncertain as to whether or not this is replacing a Zekrom, or bumping another card or two out to become “emergency behemoths” to help counter other Pokémon EX, but it should be in there with the current card pool. Three would probably be overkill, though, unless you are very concerned with Zekrom EX being stuck in your Prizes. The regular Zekrom will still be the backbone of many decks, because it can hit 120 points of damage for three Energy (without one of them being Double Colorless Energy), and while donking is going to be less and less viable a strategy (due to the size of and anticipated popularity of Pokémon EX), getting that KO your very first turn (possibly the first turn of the game) is still a big advantage (barring certain extenuating circumstances). Zekrom EX is less able to do that, and opening with a Pokémon EX can be risky, anyway.

Zekrom EX can also work in off-type decks, and unlike Reshiram EX I think it is a better choice here than its non-Pokémon EX counterpart. What it might not be better than is Zapdos (BW: Next Destinies 41/99), a 120 HP Fighting Resistant (but Lightning Weak) Basic Pokémon that for similar (actually slightly better on its big attack) Energy costs can deliver a solid sniping attack or flip intensive “potential” big damage attack. If you don’t care about hitting the Bench or Fighting Resistance, and overall Energy in the deck isn’t tight, Zekrom EX wins. Glinting Claw easily puts the hurt on most Lightning Weak Pokémon, and if it isn’t Lightning Weak or is huge, Volt Strike is a realistic option.

So what if you just need a big, Basic beatstick? Reshiram EX suffered because of other candidates; will the other Pokémon EX or something kind of crazy squeeze Zekrom EX out? Again, circumstances favor Zekrom EX more. The kinds of Energy acceleration that are employed in Lightning decks simply aren’t as overall potent as that which Fire currently has. At first that would sound like a mark against Zekrom EX, but this means that a Mewtwo EX relying on X-Ball is going to struggle to get big enough, fast enough. Regigigas EX requires self-damage to hit truly hard; this wasn’t a big issue for it when it was going up against another self-damaging Pokémon like Reshiram EX, but again most of the time I’d rather just deal with the Energy discards. So unless I was very worried about hitting Psychic Weakness I think in a dedicated Lightning-Type deck I’d go with Zekrom EX, and unless I was using a deck built around self-damage or I really needed to hit the rare Colorless Weakness, Regigigas EX isn’t crowding it out, either.

What does seem the same is Unlimited play. In Unlimited you have decks that can either win first turn, strip away your hand before you ever get to play, or lock down one or more resources while Focus Band and classical Baby Pokémon protected by “the Baby Rule” mean that no matter how hard you can hit, you’re still a coin toss away from a KO. Topping all that off is most Pokémon that see play aren’t there because they are big: some are downright small. Glinting Claw unfortunately only hits the right damage on a “heads”, while Volt Strike will regularly be expensive overkill. This means the large selection of older big, Basic Lightning-Type Pokémon can crowd Zekrom EX out of a deck it would seem to be a natural fit in. Honestly, that Zapdos I mentioned earlier looks like the superior pick here, where it can snipe 30 HP Baby Pokémon in a single shot, bypassing the Baby Rule.

This is a must play in Unlimited. Make sure to cover your Weakness, but this card should be fantastic here. So many Evolution cards are unplayable due to a lack of needed support, often including but not limited to Evolution line itself. This means the average HP scores and damage output are lower here. Outside of Fighting Pokémon, the odd Evolution, and other Pokémon EX the HP on Zekrom EX should last at least two turns and probably three or four. If you can only get a single Lightning Energy (or a lucky Prism Energy) onto Zekrom EX, Glinting Claw will probably snag at least two Prizes. If you can get two sources of Lightning Energy attached, bouncing between Glinting Claw and Volt Strike will probably take all four Prizes you need. Still you must be careful: you only start with four Prizes in this format, which means a Zekrom EX that gets KOed is worth half your opponent’s Prize cards!

Ratings

Unlimited: 3/5

Modified: 4/5

Limited: 4.75/5

Summary

Zekrom EX, like all the Pokémon EX, is trying to oust former champs as well as each other for a place in decks. Zekrom EX looks to be off to a great start, augmenting decks that already used the plain Zekrom. It won’t be showing up in every deck, but where it does show up it will be useful. Still just like Reshiram EX, it is basically strengthening what is already there. If it hadn’t been printed, Mewtwo EX or Regigigas EX would have reasonably replaced it, and the fundamentals of the format were already shaped by the plain Zekrom. As such I did leave it off my own Top 10, but unlike Reshiram EX I am wondering if that was an oversight. Most if not all the cards that placed above it will have a greater impact, or at least will change the game in ways other cards won’t replicate.

I will add that I enjoy the Full Art version better than the standard for Zekrom EX, which would seem pretty obvious except for the Pokémon EX we got this set, that hasn’t been so: I like both pieces of art for Kyurem EX equally, and for the rest I prefer the normal art better.

Please check out my eBay sales by clicking here. It’s me whittling away at about two decades worth of attempted collecting, spanning action figures, comic books, TCGs, and video games. Exactly what is up is a bit random. Pojo.com is in no way responsible for any transactions; Pojo is merely doing me a favor by letting me link at the end of my reviews.

Conical

2/15/12: Zekrom EX

Number 8 is Zekrom EX, who like its counterpart Reshiram doesn't belong in the top 10, in my opinion.

Much as Reshiram EX is not good because another card does what it does, only better, Zekrom EX cannot really compare to Zekrom BW. I don't really want to write what I said about Reshiram EX again with a slightly different card, so if you want to see what I said then, check out yesterday's CotD.

There are some differences, of course, but they're not favorable for Zekrom EX. In particular, the 2nd attack requiring 4 energy hurts more for Zekrom EX more than it did for Reshiram EX because of the differences in energy acceleration between the other Reshiram/Zekrom. One of things Zekrom prides itself on is its speed, being able to get out an early Zekrom, and use Pachirisu/Shaymin to have a fully powered Zekrom as early as turn 2. That's why Zekrom EX needing 4 energy for its big attack is so much worse, because you're not going to have that speed. And not only is your first Zekrom EX going to be way slower, your second and third will be too because of this, and you'll have to recharge your first Zekrom EX, because it discards the energy afterwards, unlike Zekrom. Maybe you could find a different energy accleration engine to power Zekrom EX, but one, it's not going to be as good as Pachirisu/Shaymin, and two, Zekrom would probably be a better attacker than Zekrom EX anyway.

Modified: 2.25/5
Limited: 4.25/5

Mad Mattezhion
 Professor Bathurst League Australia
#8: Zekrom EX (Next Destinies)
 
Today's card is the counterpart to yesterday's review, because as sure as day follows night you have to have one follow the other. Here's Zekrom!
 
But I'm getting ahead of myself. First you need to know that Zekrom is walking tall with the biggest monsters around, wielding 180 HP and not afraid to use it! Unfortunately, the Fighting Weakness will eat in to that with both Terrakion and Donphan Prime being popular countermeasures to Zekrom's earlier incarnation. Also, the retreat cost is a heavy 3 energy so you'll need a Dodrio HGSS as well as Skyarrow Bridge if you want free retreat (or just use the trusty Switch). To compensate, being a Lightning type is helpful since you'll be ble to justify including Eelektrik and Magnezone without any trouble, as well as exploiting a Weakness commonly printed across several different types (you have to love Flying dual types, don't you?). So far, Zekrom is as powerful as Godzilla and just as likely to attract heavily-armed attention.
 
So we move to the tower-destroying attacks. Glinting claw is a simple [l][c][c] attack for 50 with a flip to increase that damage to 80, which has the same intention and impact as the same attack on Reshiram EX. Still, it could be worse and you're more likely get it running in th early game due to the Pachirisu/Shaymin combo.
 
After the lukewarm opening attack, you need a powerful beatdown strike with which to make your opponents tremble. That destroyer of worlds is Strong Volt, which costs [l][l][c][c] as well as a 2 energy discard to deal 150 damage. Yesterday's review explained that pretty much everything worth only a single Prize will be obliterated by 150 damage so the future of Zekrom's playability rests on how well you can power and exploit this advantage.
 
Powering up won't be difficult with Eelektrik NV and Shaymin UL around, but the discard penalty will get tough to deal with since Eelektrik's Dynamotor only targets Benched Poke'mon and Shaymin's Poke-power can only be used coming into play. As such, the natural tag partner is Magnezone Prime who is only too happy to put restored energy to good use when Zekrom has to fall back (go Lost Burn!). But this begs the question: why would you play Zekrom in the first place?
 
Much like Reshiram EX, Zekrom is a card that wants you to gamble you will take more Prizes than you lose and once Zekrom is down, it stays down because you won't have the time or resources to recover a Poke'mon EX and four energy while taking fire from your opponent's remaining hitters. The true power of the original incarnations of the dragons doesn't lie only in their destructive power, but in the fact that as soon as one Zekrom or Reshiram gets taken out, it just gets replaced with another!
 
I left Zekrom off my personal list for the same reason I didn't think Reshiram could make the grade: it isn't recursion friendly. Without the power to rise from the graveyard as strong as it was before, Zekrom and Reshiram lose a core part of what has made them into tournament staples. Sure, you can drop 1 or two of these monstrous EX into your deck for the big bang if you desperately need to hit the 150 damage mark, but I can't see much of a benefit compared to increasing the Revive count in your build and flattening your opponent under an undying dragon horde!
 
Modified: 3.25 (there is a place for Zekrom in the tournaments of today, but it isn't under the spotlight that it shares with its more robust cousin)
 
Limited: 3.75 (the discard to attack hurts but the Lightning Weakness is everywhere here so you won't need anything but Glinting Claw here. Between Prism Energy and DCE you should do well!)
 
Combos with: a playing tactic or strategy that can truly abuse the 180 HP in same-type support that Zekrom has. I don't see that it exists now, but Zekrom EX could come out into the sun with future releases
 
 
 


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