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Yu Yu Hakusho
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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


- S&M: Burning Shadows
- #BUS 105

Date Reviewed:
Sept. 19, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.00
Expanded: 2.13
Limited: 3.13

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

Back to the main COTD Page


Now here's an interesting idea: what if there's a Pokemon that was able to devolve a bunch of Pokemon at once? Truly a madman's inspiration-oh wait that was also Porygon-Z. 

Since his last appearance in Ancient Origins, Porygon-Z hasn't changed much. He does have Zap Cannon now, which is a decent attack at 3-for-80, but he can't use it next turn. That is, he can't attack next turn unless you've got a Pokemon, Stadium, or Tool that lets him use a pre-evolution attack. Not like any of those would be much better, but there you go. 

The most interesting prospect is Porygon-Z's Ability, Initialize, which devolves as many of your opponent's evolved Pokemon as you'd like when a Pokemon evolves into Porygon-Z. Now back in the pre-Sun & Moon days, this wasn't that big of a deal, since the worst thing was Mega-EX and BREAK, which could be devolved by this method. But now we're gradually transitioning towards GX, which have been shown in variations of Basic, Stage 1, and Stage 2, meaning there's more evolutions to go around. 

That's the good news with his Ability. The bad news is mainly in that running Porygon-Z...takes a lot of investment on its own. You're running at least 3 cards (1-1-1) to try and get one tech on your opponent by devolving their Pokemon forrrrrrrrr...a good purpose I'm sure? Ideally you're doing it to make it easier to KO stuff, if not actually KO them based on the damage, but Porygon-Z on his own is not worth the space to mass-wipe a field in that manner. 

Sure he's got a lot of potential which Initialize, but you're gonna need to have something set-up that can take advantage of it - otherwise, your opponent just plays them all down again. Something to keep in mind. 


Standard: 1.5/5 (a very niche use that will probably see limited play) 

Expanded: 1.5/5 (he's useful against evolutions, but otherwise falls short) 

Limited: 2.5/5 (so his play seems a bit...underpowered) 

Arora Notealus: You think they made Zap Cannon weak to compensate for his Ability? Sometimes ya gotta wonder about what those crazy folks at the Pokemon Company are thinking to make cards like this... 



Porygon Z (Burning Shadows, 105/147) received a new incarnation in the Burning Shadows expansion set.  A Colorless Stage 2 Pokemon, it has the ability Initialize which will allow you to devolve each of your opponent’s non-Basic Pokemon and put the highest Stage card back in his or her hand.  The only limitation to this ability is that Porygon Z must be played from your hand to activate its ability.

Obviously, this directly compares to Espeon EX’s (Breakpoint, 52/122) Miraculous Shine.  However, being an ability gives it multiple advantages over being an attack:

·         You don’t lose a turn of doing damage.  Miraculous Shine does zero damage to your opponent’s Pokemon.  Initialize still allows you to do damage during the turn it is employed.  This means you could still use Pokemon like Alolan Ninetales GX (Guardians Rising, 133/145) or Weavile (Burning Shadows, 86/147) to snipe lower stage Pokemon.

·         You could potentially use N (Fates Collide, 105/124) to snatch your opponent’s evolved Pokemon out of their hand and put them back in their deck.  This could cause a significant setback in your opponent’s developmental strategy and give you a valuable advantage in tempo.

·         You could use this to get around “wall” Pokemon such as Machoke (Guardians Rising, 64/145) or Alolan Ninetales (Burning Shadows, 28/147).

The downside is that it’s a Stage 2 Pokemon and you can’t 100% control when you’re going to get this card.  Plus, you can’t use Evosoda (Generations, 62/83) or Wally (Generations, RC27) to access it either, so you might not be able to get it when you need it.  And, of course, being an ability, it’s susceptible to Garbodor’s (Breakpoint, 57/122) Garbotoxin as well.  I would have to say, though, it’s still probably a better play than Espeon EX.  In my experience with various spread decks, I had included Espeon EX as a potential attacker, hoping that I could use it after building up damage on various Pokemon.  In reality, I found I was never using it.  There are quite a few good big Basics still out there (Tapu Bulu GX (SM32), any of the Fire box Pokemon, Drampa GX (Guardians Rising, 115/145)), and I found that after a few Flying Flips from Tapu Koko (SM31) to my opponent’s Pokemon, I wanted to move those damage counters to key attacking Pokemon with Meowstic (Generations, RC15).  I simply wasn’t using Espeon EX, so I took it out.

Therefore, I decided to plug Porygon Z into a spread deck and give it a shot.  I went 8 W 4 L in twelve matches, but I actually only used Porygon Z once.  I did have it at Stage 1 in another match, and I think that contributed to my opponent’s concession.  In the one match in which I did use it, I probably would have won anyway, but it definitely accelerated the win.  Here’s the decklist I used:

* 1 Porygon EVO 71
* 1 Porygon2 BUS 104
* 1 Porygon-Z BUS 105
* 2 Sneasel STS 60
* 2 Weavile BUS 86
* 2 Tapu Koko PR-SM SM31
* 2 Tapu Koko PR-SM SM30
* 2 Espurr BUS 59
* 2 Meowstic GEN 115
* 4 Professor Sycamore STS 114
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 4 Energy Loto GRI 122
* 4 Pokémon Catcher SUM 126
* 4 Po Town BUS 121
* 2 Guzma BUS 115
* 2 Special Charge STS 105
* 4 Evosoda GEN 62
* 3 Random Receiver FAC 109
* 4 N NVI 92
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 4 Double Colorless Energy EVO 90
* 6 Psychic Energy SUM 162


Standard: 2 out of 5


While Porygon Z can help you win matches, I just don’t know if you’ll use it enough to justify the three card slots it takes up.  I found that I simply didn’t use it enough, and I don’t think it’s really going to increase your win percentage as much as other cards might.


Today, on Porygon-Z… 

The joke requires you read that in the old Dragon Ball Z narrator voice.  So, we’re looking at Porygon-Z (SM: Burning Shadows 105/147).  It is a Stage 2 Colorless-Type Pokémon with 130 HP, Fighting Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC], the Ability “Initialize” and the attack “Zap Cannon”.  Initialize triggers when you Evolve one of your in play Pokémon into this card and bounces the highest Stage of Evolution from your opponent’s Evolved Pokémon to hand.  Zap Cannon requires [CCC] and does 80 damage while placing an effect on Porygon-Z that prevents it from using the attack again on the next turn.  Being a Stage 2 is a drag, but it seems more plausible in Standard now than in recent years.  Being a Colorless-Type means no worries about Weakness or Resistance (at least on whatever Porygon-Z may attack), and little to worry about the Type’s support or counters, as the former sees very little competitive play and the latter none (at least that I can recall).  130 HP should keep Porygon-Z safe from the bottom half of attackers, but only against those, and not even them if Weakness comes into play.  Being Fighting Weak isn’t happy; Marshadow-GX means even when a Fighting-Type deck isn’t near the top, we’ve got to mind it.  No Resistance is typical, so we won’t worry about it.  The Retreat Cost of [CC] is also typical, but worthy of a little consideration; paying it once isn’t too bad, but more than that might not even be an option.  Initialize is a hindrance on its own, but if combined with damage spread, hand disruption, etc. could really frustrate Evolution focused decks.  Zap Cannon is subpar filler, but it can do in a pinch. 

Porygon-Z Evolves from Porygon2, which in turn Evolves from Porygon; I was going to recommend a Porygon, but looking through our options, none really stand out.  I guess don’t use BW: Plasma Blast 72/101; it has the same stats as all the others, but its attack - which does 10 for [C] - is available under a different name on SM: Burning Shadows 103/147, along with another attack. Porygon2 (XY: Ancient Origins) is another to avoid, but because it has a Retreat Cost of [CC].  Let me stress that none of these cards have been great attacks, and none have useful Abilities.  This is a surprise because all the older Porygon2 have that era’s equivalent of an Ability, and some are quite good, even by today’s standards!  There are a couple of other Porygon-Z to consider, but I’m just going to look at one because of a potential combo that sprung to my mind.  You see, mass Devolution begs for damage spread so that the typically smaller lower Stages of your opponent’s Pokémon might be KO’d when they are Devolved.  This made me think of combining today’s Porygon-Z (SM: Burning Shadows 105/147) with Porygon-Z (XY: Ancient Origins 67/98); its “Digital Reboot” attack allows you to Devolve as many of your Pokémon as many times as you like.  Besides resetting Initialize, it would allow you to spam the Abilities on Alakazam-EX, Crobat (XY: Phantom Forces 33/119), Golbat (XY: Phantom Forces 32/119; Generations 31/83) and/or Forretress (XY: Flashfire 60/106).  Po Town would be another option to increase the damage counter placement.  

While you’re forced to give up your attack for the turn to mass Devolve your own stuff, you could be setting up for Devolution KO’s on your opponent’s side of the field.  Of course, you could save the space of a Stage 2 line and just run stuff like Acerola, AZ, Devolution Spray, Super Scoop Up, etc.  In fact, you could skip today’s Porygon-Z as well by attacking with Espeon-EX to Devolve your opponent’s Pokémon in the same manner as Initialize.  You’re still giving up your attack, so let me get to what might be a legitimate use of this card.  In the Expanded Format, Trevenant BREAK decks spread a lot of damage while blocking the opposing player from playing Item cards from hand via the “Forest’s Curse” Ability it gains due to having Evolved from Trevenant (XY 55/146).  Forest’s Curse only works while the Pokémon with it is Active, so using Espeon-EX to Devolve would break the Item lock.  This could also help with some problematic Abilities, but only some.  I’m not sold on the idea, but I like it.  For Standard, I don’t really have anything major.  For Limited Format play, try to slip even a 1-1-1 line into your deck unless you’re rocking a +39 deck.  Focusing on Evolved Pokémon and retreating an injured attacker are both common tactics here, and while Zap Cannon is still mediocre here (though for being harder to shake its effect instead of not doing enough damage), almost any deck should be able to use at least one (and probably both) of its effects. 


Standard: 1.5/5 


Perhaps because I remember the days of Ancient Technical Machine [Rock] and mass devolving decks with multiple Evolutions mostly Evolved via Rare Candy, I have a soft spot for this mechanic; I tried to reign that in, at least a little.  Most of the time, Espeon-EX is going to be a better option, even though you’ve got to attack to Devolve with it.  I would fancy trying this with Trevenant BREAK in Expanded, except I’m still just a bit shy of having what it takes to build that deck or to be willing to subject my PTCGO opponent’s to it. 

Porygon-Z made both 21times’ Top 24 list and my Top 25, in 24th and 15th place, respectively.  I’m thinking he was right about this one.


Today’s we’re looking at Porygon-Z.  Zap Cannon is nothing home to write about, but it’s ability, Initialize, is a coming into play ability which devolves each Pokemon from the opponent.  What makes it better than Espeon-EX’s Miraculous Shine is that Initialize can be used multiple times on one turn depending on how many Porygon-Z you can bring into play.  If you happen to play at least three Porygon-Z, you just effectively wiped their entire evolutionary line down to their basic forms!
Porygon-Z is another good option to devolve Pokemon.  All you need is another Pokemon to finish off evolving basics.  I think Miltank from XY Flashfire is a good choice because it’s Powerful Friends does 80 for one energy if you have a Stage 2, which Porygon-Z is.  Throw in a few damage boosting items such as Muscle Band or Giovanni’s Scheme/Professor Kukui, and Miltank would be able to KO most evolving basics.  The Pokemon that isn’t fazed would be 130 HP basics like Xerneas and Yveltal that can BREAK Evolve and Evolving Basic-EXs.
Here’s an example skeleton list of such an expanded deck (haven’t tried yet):
Pokemon 17
4 Miltank (XY Flashfire)
4-2-4 Porygon-Z
3 Empoleon (XY Breakthrough)
Energy 10
10 Water Energy
Trainer 33
2 Archie’s Ace in the Hole
4 Ultra Ball
1 Battle Compressor
4 VS Seeker
3 Rare Candy
1 Dowsing Machine
4 N
4 Choice Band
10 other trainer cards because that’s as much I can think of…
Standard: 2/5
Expanded: 3/5
Limited: 2/5


            Despite not as beloved as its younger, Kaspersky-protected younger brothers, Porygon-Z remains as forgotten as its siblings. As its youngest form, Porygon, is banned from Pokémon anime spotlight ever since that Japan seizure hysteria in ’95-’96, naturally its evolutions are also unwilling victims of the incident. However, this doesn’t stop the competitive scene from forgetting Porygon-Z; the entire Porygon line are all amazing competitive wise, thanks to a great mono-Normal typing, extremely wide movepool and nice stats. Porygon itself is a nice offensive wall in the Smogon Little Cup, Porygon2 has achieved legendary fame in VGC17 as being that Pokémon that can be inserted into every team regardless of its composition and Porygon-Z is that amazing sweeper that can use the Z-Conversion setup to aid power and sweeping. And also we have rather decent Porygon-Z cards; with the latest being the Ancient Origins variant which is a very meme-ish card that has the Digital Reboot attack, which is basically a mass Devolution Spray for all of your Pokémon. And why I bring this old Porygon-Z card up? It’s because this new one functions similarly to that one!

            Porygon-Z’s Initialize ability allows you to devolve all your opponent’s Evolved Pokémon from play and put it back to their opponent’s hand. Sounds familiar? Well, it’s because this is basically Espeon-EX’s (XY BREAKpoint) Miraculous Shine attack, reprinted as an ability! Have you remembered that Decidueye-GX (SM Base Set)/Alolan Ninetales-GX (SM Guardians Rising) deck, that anti evolution Pokemon-GX deck where you just essentially deal damage counters slowly and carefully using Decidueye-GX’s Feather Arrow ability, Alolan Ninetales-GX’s Ice Blade, and Tapu Koko (SM30 Promo)’s Flying Flip, to then use Espeon-EX’s Miraculous Shine to devolve them all to their non Pokemon-GX form, which has significantly less HP and clean the board afterwards? Although the rotation of the Forest of Giant Plants (XY Ancient Origins) signficantly reduce its potency, it is still a nice concept, and one deck where Porygon-Z might prove itself useful. When you are using the Porygon-Z cleanup method, you can essentially clean up decks while still using attacks that deal damage, which is great. And remember the Porygon-Z from Ancient Origins told earlier? This card can actually synergize with the Digital Reboot attack it has, so you can reuse Initialize again and again. Combine this with Po Town (SM Burning Shadows) and you have yourself a very niche denial deck there! You also has an attack in Zap Cannon for 3 Colorless energies that can deal 80 damage; personally with the power creep the meta now has, this attack is a bit rubbish. Especially as you can’t use the Zap Cannon again next turn.

            However, this is where things started to go a bit wrong. You see, as a evolution denial attacker, there is one thing that makes Espeon-EX very good; its a one card tech that can be placed in a deck with minimal consequences that can actually benefit you in the late game thanks to cards like Super Rod (XY BREAKthrough) and Rescue Strecher (SM Guardians Rising), making Espeon-EX discardable in the early game and then you can just retrieve it later and use it for a mass Miraculous Shine with just 1 Colorless energy. Whilas when you use the Porygon-Z Pokemon cleanup method, you need to invest in it; i.e. put some Porygon and Porygon2s in the deck, which can take up deck space that can actually be used for other, better cards, get and evolve them in the bench which can be used for that second Decidueye-GX or Tapu Koko, and also the fact that its devolution method is an Ability, not an attack, which means cards like Garbodor (XY BREAKpoint) can actually shut you down in this regard. Although since you will play Field Blower anyway (SM Guardians Rising), this might not be the biggest issue. And also a very simple fact still remains that big Basic decks are still here to stay; decks such as Volcanion-EX (XY Steam Siege)/Turtonator-GX (SM Guardians Rising)/Ho-Oh GX (SM Burning Shadows) are still here to stay; and since they consist of fully Basic Pokemon, devolution methods aren’t going to work in those decks, and thus you need to painfully build up the damage count to a high degree, like 180/190 HP level, which is super high.

            Personally, I do love the idea of Porygon-Z; its a evolution denial method that can be used in the bench, it doesn’t need to end your turn, it has very few counters, and most importantly it will survive next year’s rotation. But between the speed of the meta, the possible popularity of full Basic decks, and the fact that you need to invest in multiple cards for this to work does let it down a bit.


Standard: 3/5 (nice inclusion as a evolution denial card, but too much investment on an otherwise tech card lets it down)

Expanded: 2/5 (evolution decks aren’t that popular in Expanded, so this will also impact the viability of Porygon-Z as well.)

Limited: 4.5/5 (It’s easy to pull a full set Porygon-Z line; so you can fully exploit the ability to its fullest extent)

Next on SM Burning Shadows:
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