(the non-Pokémon EX version) was our
pick for the second best card of 2011,
beaten out only by the Item
Zekrom EX managed to take the number
eight slot for our Top 10 Promising
Picks of BW: Next Destinies.
Is that shocking?
doesn’t count as the “old” Pokémon ex,
but this really only matters in
Unlimited and for certain card
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).
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
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
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
With power creep it can be hard
to get an idea of how much more
significant this is, but I’d say it is
Wailord ex (EX: Sandstorm
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
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
Fortunately if you’re running a
Basic Pokémon heavy deck you can run
to drop that down to a slightly more
manageable Retreat Cost of two, though
Switch is probably the better
Still there is a silver lining:
can legally snag this from your deck
since it has such a chunky Retreat Cost.
As seems to be standard for the new
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
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 did a good hunk of
self-damage on a Pokémon worth two
Prizes and that required four Energy to
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
Coupled with needing just one or
two sources of Lightning Energy (for
Glinting Claw and Volt Strike,
Zekrom EX an effective off-type
splash: you just need
Rainbow Energy and/or
Prism Energy if the deck doesn’t
Lightning Energy at all.
has a place in most decks that already
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
Three would probably be overkill,
though, unless you are very concerned
Zekrom EX being stuck in your
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
can also work in off-type decks, and
Reshiram EX I think it is a better
choice here than its non-Pokémon EX
What it might not be better than
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
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
Zekrom EX, but this means that a
Mewtwo EX relying on X-Ball is going
to struggle to get big enough, fast
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
So unless I was very worried
about hitting Psychic Weakness I think
in a dedicated Lightning-Type deck I’d
Zekrom EX, and unless I was using a
deck built around self-damage or I
really needed to hit the rare Colorless
Regigigas EX isn’t crowding it out,
What does seem the same is Unlimited
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
Topping all that off is most
Pokémon that see play aren’t there
because they are big: some are downright
Glinting Claw unfortunately only
hits the right damage on a “heads”,
while Volt Strike will regularly be
This means the large selection of
older big, Basic Lightning-Type Pokémon
Zekrom EX out of a deck it would
seem to be a natural fit in.
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
This means the average HP scores
and damage output are lower here.
Outside of Fighting Pokémon, the
odd Evolution, and other Pokémon EX the
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
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!
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
It won’t be showing up in every
deck, but where it does show up it will
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
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.
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