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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 15 Sun & Moon: Guardians Rising

#8 - Tapu Koko-GX
- S&M: Guardians Rising

Date Reviewed:
May 24, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 3.75
Expanded: 3.88
Limited: 4.67

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page


Meet the latest and greatest Electric-based attacker! 

Descending from his alter back on Melemele Island, Tapu Koko-GX makes his debut onto the scene with an aggressive card. Right away, you see Sky-High Claws is a 3-for-130 vanilla, and you're like me going, "Awwww, where's the extra effect?" Well keep that attack in mind as we go forward, cause things are ABOUT TO GET CRAZY!! 

Tapu Koko-GX starts out with an Ability called Aero Trail, and it's pretty straightforward: you play Tapu Koko-GX down, you grab all the Electric Energy you want from your other Pokemon, and then you auto-Switch him with your Active Pokemon! So basically, so long as you have stuff in play to make it work, Tapu Koko-GX can attack IMMEDIATELY with Sky-High Claws the moment he comes into play! Imagine pulling this out on your opponent out of nowhere midgame and catching them by surprise! There's a big appealing factor right there. 

BUT WAIT!! THERE'S MORE!! If Sky-High Claws isn't good enough for a comeback, Tapu Koko-GX could just as easily swap in with his GX Attack, Tapu Thunder GX! For the same cost, it'll deal 50 damage to your opponent's Active for ALL the Energy attached to ALL your opponent's Pokemon. All it takes is 4 Energy to KO most Pokemon - including Basic-GX and Basic-EX - and another Energy KOs anything in the game - all you need is your opponent to have the Energy out and ready! 

Now that all sounds great, but it's also Tapu Koko-GX's telling weakness - he's very field-dependent. From his Ability to his GX Attack, the only thing that doesn't seem to be affected by what's on the field...is Sky-High Claws, that 3-for-130 vanilla attack. Which is probably a good thing, as that would make Tapu Koko-GX significantly more chancy if that were the case - and no, not enough to evolve into Blissey. 

...you see what I did there. 

In any case, Tapu Koko-GX presents a strong option for a lot of Electric-based decks, and he could even combine with Rayquaza from yesterday. Just get some Electric Energies in the discard, push them onto Pokemon with Rayquaza, thunder down with Tapu Koko-GX and go to town! It's a big turnaround that's just waiting to be broken! 

We'll see how effective Electric strategies become with this guy running around. 


Standard: 4/5 (he's certainly a force to be reckoned with) 

Expanded: 4/5 (but if your field's weak, Aero Trail won't charge him that much)

Limited: 5/5 (and if your opponent doesn't have much to begin with, well, Tapu Thunder GX will only need to do so much) 

Arora Notealus: Tapu Koko is probably one of the most fascinating Pokemon that GameFreak's ever designed. Really I could say that about all the Tapus, like something about this generation's Pokemon, they just nailed one after the other. I'm not sure I could name one that I...well, okay, no, that's a lie, I can think of a couple I don't like. Regardless, Tapu Koko-GX ought to be a powerhouse that's going to be apart of the meta - as long as Electric decks are prevalent enough. 

Next Time: Speaking of Type-specific decks, let's talk FIYAHHHHHHHHHH


Tapu Koko (Guardians Rising, 135/145) enters the meta through the Guardians Rising expansion set.  A brand new Pokemon – and a brand new classification of Pokemon – it has 170 HP and two attacks, both of which cost three energy (two Lightning and a Colorless).  Sky High Claws does 130 damage, and Tapu Thunder GX does 50 times the amount of energy attached to all of your opponent’s Pokemon (take that Darkrai EX (Breakpoint, 118/122)!).

Tapu Koko’s ability Aero Trail was confusing to me at first, and I will freely admit that I downgraded this Pokemon simply because I failed to understand its ability.  When you play this Pokemon from your hand to your bench, you may move any number of energy from your other Pokemon to this Pokemon, and, if you do move energy to this Pokemon, it becomes your Active Pokemon.

So here’s how it works: you have a Tapu Koko in the active and it gets damaged from an attack.  You place another Tapu Koko from your hand down onto your bench, move all of the energy from your active Koko to the benched one, and then the benched one becomes the active.  You then play Max Poition (Guardians Rising, 128/145) and heal all of the damage off your benched Koko, and then you Ninja Boy (Steam Siege, 103/114) it back into your deck, when you can subsequently use Ultra Ball (Sun & Moon, 135/149) to return Koko back to your hand and start the whole cycle over again next turn.

At least that’s how it works in Theorymon.  In reality, it doesn’t always come off that smoothly, but I managed to go 15-10 in matches I played with it, and my opponents’ Koko decks went 6-3 against me.  This is definitely a good Pokemon, but many of my losses were against the absolute best Pokemon in the format (Garbodor (Guardians Rising, 51/145), Sylveon GX (Guardians Rising, 140/145), and Tauros GX (Sun & Moon, 144/149).  I beat it with my M Mewtwo EX (Breakthrough, 64/162) Garbodor and Trevenant (Guardians Rising, 7/145) Vileplume (Ancient Origins, 3/98) decks.  I just don’t think that Koko has what it takes to beat the best decks in the format, but it will win A LOT against anything below the top tier of competition.

I mentioned this in Monday’s review of Hala (Guardians Rising, 143/145), but I actually had more success with a Mallow (Guardians Rising, 145/145) based draw support engine than I did with the standard Professor Sycamore (Steam Siege, 114/114) Lillie (Sun & Moon, 147/149) draw engine.  I went 5-4 with Sycamore and Lillie, but went 10-6 with Mallow, Skyla (Breakpoint, 122/122), and Teammates (Primal Clash, 160/160).  This is a more precision based draw support engine and takes a little bit of getting used to.  It’s great because you can grab whatever two cards you want, but the problem is that you have to make sure you grab the best cards for that moment in time.  Here’s the list I used: 

##Pokémon - 8

* 4 Tapu Koko-GX GRI 47
* 2 Remoraid BKT 32
* 2 Octillery BKT 33

##Trainer Cards - 41

* 4 Puzzle of Time BKP 109
* 3 Fighting Fury Belt BKP 99
* 4 Mallow GRI 127
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 4 Skyla BKP 122
* 1 Pokémon Ranger STS 113
* 1 Ninja Boy STS 103
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 135
* 2 Random Receiver FAC 109
* 2 Field Blower GRI 125
* 4 Max Elixir BKP 102
* 1 Energy Retrieval SUM 116
* 4 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 4 Max Potion GRI 164
* 2 Level Ball NXD 89

##Energy - 11

* 11 Lightning Energy  4


Standard: 3.5 out of 5


Tapu Koko GX is a good Pokemon.  Once you figure out exactly how it works, it will win you a majority of the games you play with it.  However, it lacks the punch to compete with the best decks in the format, and it is easy to make a misplay with this deck.  If you are the kind of player who likes to think ahead and enjoys the challenge of anticipating the correct cards to use, this deck is for you.  It definitely is NOT an autopilot deck.


We are in the middle of counting down the top 15 cards of SM: Guardians Rising.  The Pojo site list is based on individual lists submitted by the review staff; reprints are excluded to avoid highlighting cards we already know are quite good. 

Our eighth place finisher is Tapu Koko-GX (SM: Guardians Rising 47/145, 135/145, 153/145).  Let us remember that, as a Pokémon-GX, Tapu Koko-GX gives up an extra Prize when it is KO’d, will have better HP than if it lacked the mechanic, will have three effects (one being a GX-attack) but has to deal with some anti-GX effects like that of the new Choice Band.  Given how many have been at least somewhat successful so far, it is easy to forget that some of these have been duds.  Tapu Koko-GX is a Basic Pokémon, making it easy to run; this is the best Stage for a Pokémon at present and has been for much of the game’s history.  As a Lightning Type, you’ll enjoy hitting some key cards - like Yveltal-EX - for double damage, only have to deal with annoyance that is Resistance in Expanded, and have access to some nice tricks… but that last one is mostly for Expanded play unless future releases/rotation improves the performance of the Lightning Pokémon and Lightning Energy Type support.  170 HP is the lowest we’ve seen on Pokémon-GX, but still a good, solid amount likely to survive a hit.  Lack of Weakness means there isn’t an exception to that and is the best.  Lack of Resistance, conversely, is the worst, but the Resistance mechanic isn’t anywhere near as relevant.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you can probably pay it if you need to but high enough you should try to avoid it. 

“Aero Trail” is an Ability that triggers when Tapu Koko-GX is played to your Bench from your hand during your turn.  If you choose to use it, you may move as many [L] Energy from your other Pokémon to [this] Tapu Koko-GX as you wish, but if you do, then you must switch [this] Tapu Koko-GX with your Active Pokémon.  If you moved enough Energy to Tapu Koko-GX to attack, you probably wanted it Active anyway, so being forced to do one after the other isn’t likely to be a problem.  This kind of effect has shown up before, though more recent versions haven’t been huge successes.  The devil is in the details; Aero Trail works with any source of [L], including Special Energy cards.  “Bust In”, featured on Dragonite-EX (XY: Furious Fists 74/111, 108/111) works almost the same as Aero Trail, only applying to that Pokémon and working on only basic Energy cards (but of any Type).  That might sound better, except this is the Dragon-Type Dragonite-EX, so it wanted to use Double Dragon Energy.  Thanks to history, we already know how to run this card: AZ, Max Potion, Scoop Up Cyclone, and Super Scoop Up is used after Aero Trail moves Energy off of whatever was your previous active (probably Tapu Koko-GX) onto your (next) Tapu Koko-GX, then one of the above cards flushes all the damage away from the old one, possibly why bouncing it to hand to reuse Aero Trail.  Right now, only Max Potion is Standard legal, but we have seen a Super Scoop Up reprint pop up in Japan, so maybe we’ll see it re-released in a manner to return it to Standard here.  If not, Max Potion may well be enough. 

Of course, this only matters if Tapu Koko-GX is a worthwhile attacker; part of what hurt the aforementioned Dragonite-EX is its attack was a bit wanting.  Tapu Koko-GX may use “Sky-High Claws” for [LLC] to do 130 damage, enough for 2HKO status even before buffs, though OHKO’s get a bit dicey; Choice Band with a Professor Kukui can OHKO a 180 HP Pokémon-EX or Pokémon-GX, but various Evolutions and a few Basics will fall outside of this range.  Still, this is better than that Dragonite-EX, which needed [GGL] to use its “Jet Sonic” attack to do 80 damage, or 120 if you discard an Energy from itself.  If you can avoid being OHKO’d, the combo with Aero Trail and Max Potion means a 130+ assault turn after turn looks like a viable road to victory.  Still, when you need to OHKO something, you might be able to make use of this card’s GX-attack.  For [LLC] Tapu Koko-GX can use “Tapu Thunder-GX” to do 50 damage times the amount of Energy attached to all of your opponent’s Pokémon.  That’s a decent amount of damage per Energy but there are few cards that help you add Energy to your opponent’s side of the field, and even if they worked elsewhere, they wouldn’t be worth it for a one-time-use attack.  Good thing the rest of the card incentivizes your opponent to go big or go home; coupled with the decks that need to flood their side of the field with Energy, you should manage at least one easy OHKO with it.  Ultimately, though, that is what I expect of a GX-attack that costs three Energy. 

I’m still struggling to make time to play right now, which also means I’m still lacking almost everything from the latest set, so this is a theoretical deck, but I’m thinking Tapu Koko-GX, Max Elixir, Max Potion and some compatible attackers could go a long way.  Possibly Electrode (XY: Evolutions 40/108) and/or Rainbow Energy and/or Ninja Boy also all are sensible dance partners; together these help expand your options for “compatible attackers”.  You’ll still want a solid Trainer engine, maybe one that includes some disruption in addition to the usual draw/search/damage-buffing options.  I don’t expect this to become BDIF, but I do expect it to at least enjoy 15 minutes of fame before the next expansion.  It actually has more potential in Expanded; same approach, but now you might use good ol’ Hypnotoxic Laser with Virbank City Gym and mix Choice Band with Fighting Fury Belt and Muscle Band to more reliably hit OHKO range with attacks, but the main reason is the obvious; AZ, Scoop Up Cyclone, and Super Scoop Up are all still legal here.  Just be aware that OHKOing a 170 HP Pokémon is even easier here.  Finally, for Limited play, this is a great pull, however, don’t try my usual suggestion of running it solo with 39 non-Basic Pokémon, because you won’t be able to take advantage of the Ability that way.  Your opponent would have two attacks to hit you before you could fight back, and while you’d probably start taking OHKO’s, even without Weakness 170 HP may not last long enough.  Still, even if you’ve got to splash it and some basic Lightning Energy cards into whatever else you’re running, go ahead; Aero Trail should make it work.  Unless you draw everything in the wrong order, the usual risk of Limited play. 



Standard: 3.75/5 

Expanded: 3.75/5 

Limited: 4.25/5 


I expect at least a temporarily successful deck out of Tapu Koko-GX, possibly one with lasting impact.  If this card had released in Sun & Moon (or earlier), it might have become popular to counter decks like those built around Darkrai-EX (XY: BREAKpoint 74/122, 118/122), but we have other options for that now. 

Tapu Koko-GX was part of another tightly grouped section of the Top 10 list, missing a tie with either the previous or next place by just one voting point.  It only made my own list as my 20th place pick.  Which gives you an idea of why there is such an inconsistent tone throughout this review.

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