Galarian Zapdos – Evolving Skies
August 30, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
With 20% of the countdown done, we now cover our 12th-Place pick, Galarian Zapdos (SW – Evolving Skies 082/203; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH124)! This is the second member of the single-Prize Galarian Legendary Bird Trio to make our countdown. Of what I just said, only the “Galarian” and “single Prize” currently matter in the TCG. That first bit, only just: Galarian Chestplate is the only card with a Galarian-specific effect, and I don’t know if it’ll matter for this card or not. Being a single-Prize Pokémon, though… that can be a big help in the modern metagame. Yes, most decks are built around multi-Prize Pokémon, but cards like the new Raihan tend to work better the fewer Prizes your KO’d Pokémon give up.
Galarian Zapdos is a Fighting type, and that… probably isn’t a big deal for this card. It’ll make more sense once we get to Galarian Zapdos’ attack. Being a Basic Pokémon is still the best, as usual. Minimum effort to run, minimum time to hit the field, and better synergy with certain card effects. 110 HP is low, but not terrible for a single-Prize Basic Pokémon. [P] Weakness probably won’t matter due to the HP; attacks that do 50 or less still whiff on the OHKO, while attacks that do 110+ already had it. No Resistance is the worst, but no Retreat Cost is the best.
Galarian Zapdos has one Ability and one attack, and the Ability should sound familiar. “Strong Legs Charge” can only be used when you play this Pokémon from your hand, onto your Bench, and during your own turn. If you choose to use it, you immediately attach up to two [F] Energy from your hand to this Galarian Zapdos. The only thing that counts as [F] when not attached to your Pokémon are basic Fighting Energy. These conditions are… acceptable. Yes, it would obviously be better if Strong Legs Charge could attach any Energy. If it let you attach to more than just Galarian Zapdos. If it attached more Energy. If it attached from the deck or the discard pile… but attaching two basic Fighting Energy from hand to this card is still good! After all, even if it turns out Galarian Zapdos is a dud, there are simple Energy moving tricks like Energy Switch.
Galarian Zapdos knows one attack, and that is “Zapper Kick”. For [FFC], it lets Galarian Zapdos do 70 damage to your opponent’s Active and gives you the option of discarding all attached Energy to Paralyze your opponent’s Active. 70 for three would normally be bad, but when two of the three Energy can be attached via the Ability? It becomes “decent”. Normally, I’d be worried about upping the damage to a more useful amount, and if your deck allows that, great! The real power here, though, is the Paralysis. Any deck running enough basic Fighting Energy can drop Galarian Zapdos, use Strong Legs Charge, and as long as you can attach a third Energy and promote it into your Active spot, Paralyze your opponent to try and stall.
Shaking Paralysis isn’t hard, but neither is it easy or automatic. Okay, technically it is automatic, if you don’t mind waiting a turn and not being able to attack or retreat your Paralyzed Active. For an otherwise aggressive deck, that already runs sufficient basic Fighting Energy, this is a low-risk trick to slow your opponent down. So, even if it fails, you did 70 damage, you’re only out one manual Energy attachment, and the easiest target for your opponent to attack is Galarian Zapdos (a single Prize Pokémon). If Galarian Zapdos survives, it can retreat to your Bench for free. Hardly broken, but a handy trick.
What if you’re running a control deck? Even if you aren’t running a massive amount of basic Fighting Energy, recycling Energy is relatively easy: Energy Recycle, Energy Retrieval, etc. and that is just in Standard. Expanded has even more options! Drop a third Energy on Galarian Zapdos, Zapper Kick your opponent, and your deck’s other control elements should make it difficult for your opponent to shake Paralysis. If your opponent can survive another Zapper Kick, use Scoop Up Net to bounce Galarian Zapdos, and then replay it to reuse Strong Legs Charge and attack with Zapper kick again. If you are trying for a lock, you actually don’t want to hit your opponent’s too hard, which is why I wasn’t as excited as usual for Galarian Zapdos’ typing. [F] types are often good at hitting hard and fast, and exploiting Weakness.
Oh well. You can always try to work in other combos to mess with your opponent. Like, for example, bringing up the new Medicham V (SW – Evolving Skies 083/203, 185/203, 186/203) and attacking with its “Yoga Loop” attack. While that attack costs [CC] and only places two damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokémon (you choose which one), if Yoga Loop KO’s one of your opponent’s Pokémon, you get another turn immediately. Pokémon Checkup is skipped going into your next turn as well. The catch with Yoga Loop is that the attack itself states it cannot be used multiple times in a row. Well, that and it only placing two damage counters. Imagine an opponent spamming Strong Legs Charge into Zapper Kick turn after turn, using control effects to mess with your hand and using Yoga Kick to finish off your current Active so that they can immediately resume the Paralysis loop!
If that sounds like a long shot… it probably is. Fortunately, the other use, just using Galarian Zapdos to buy some breathing room for your typical Fighting deck? That’s pretty straightforward in Standard, and enough to still earn a solid three out of five. In Expanded, the Special Energy, Trainer, and Pokémon selection available to you there may mean a lot of Fighting decks with little or no basic Fighting Energy. I’m not sure, as I was out of touch with the Expanded Format even before rotation. Effects to move Energy and/or that get stronger the more Energy you have in play are a little easier to come by here. You’ve got additional bounce options, plus more tricks for beefing up attackers.
Given some of the other “control” style decks that have emerged in Expanded, I guess I’m somewhat optimistic that something will find a decent use for Galarian Zapdos, and thus I’m awarding it three-out-of-five here as well. Finally, I’ll mention that yes, Galarian Zapdos made my Top 15. It was my 14th-Place pick, below Galarian Moltres. I like our 13th-Place Pick’s chances in modern Darkness Decks better than Galarian Zapdos’ chances in modern Fighting decks, but both seem like solid cards.
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 3/5
Editor’s Note: Vince had Galarian Zapdos as his 11th-Place Pick.
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