Pikachu & Zekrom-GX
Pikachu & Zekrom-GX

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX
– Team Up

Date Reviewed:
February 22, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.73
Expanded: 3.50
Limited: 4.50

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

Reviews Below:

vince avatar

It’s time to take another look at Pikachu & Zekrom GX! Wait a minute! Another look?! Well, I thought it’d be a good idea to look at a card that happened to be the first Tag Team card revealed in 2018 Worlds when they were featuring a new mechanic: boasting even more HP but worth THREE prizes. You can read the speculation here, and seems like I was too excited about it when I first reviewed it. 21times explained very well why TAG TEAMs would address some of the concerns seen on past tournaments, and they thought putting a three prize Pokémon would speed up the game. And it did to some extent, having attacks with absurd damage which could keep taking prizes turn after turn, while punishing the TAG TEAM player if it was left to be KOed.

Anyhow, TAG TEAM cards does affect how I’ll rate those cards, because it comes down to this: get enough support, and said Pokémon could perform well; leave it to do on it’s own, it may not be even good enough. So far, looking at all the TAG TEAM GX cards from both English and Japanese sets, they all have been theoretically playable to some degree, while being neither exciting nor disappointing. It should lean to towards pretty exciting, because TAG TEAM GXs are Basic Pokémon, being easy to play and benefit from cards from both Standard and Expanded, whether it be type specific, stage specific, or whatever. For Pikarom, its supporting cards are vast in Expanded than in Standard such as Max Elixir, Thunder Mountain, Magnezone Magnetic Circuit, Electropower, etc.

A dedicated deck would be optimized to unleash its potential. And while Pikarom does excel against EX/GX Pokemon by taking as many as five prizes, it takes longer to knock out single prize Pokémon one by one. And if said single prize Pokémon gets the upper hand against Pikarom, then there’ll be trouble brewing. Type matchups does factor in whether Pikarom can handle it or not. Worst case scenario, a well timed Sledgehammer will be the end of them. For the rest of them, any unsuspecting deck will fall prey to Pikarom’s mighty attacks. With Jirachi TEU and Pikarom’s GX attack, Tapu Lele-GX’s playability gets lower and lower.


  • Standard: 3.5/5
  • Expanded: 3.5/5
  • Limited: 4.5/5

Here’s a Standard sample decklist that I haven’t even tested yet since these are just ideas being thrown in for the sake of making one.


3 Pikarom GX
2 Magnemite (any)

2 Magnezone FBL (An unboosted Zap Cannon can OHKO Sledgehammer Buzzwole, can also be a secondary attacker to OHKO anything with sufficient uses of Electropower; 4 Electropower with Choice Band means 280 damage!)

2 Jirachi (TEU)
1 Tapu Koko Prism Star
1 Slugma (any)
1 Magcargo (CES)


4 Cynthia
4 Volkner
2 Sightseer
2 Guzma
2 Rare Candy
3 Choice Band
4 Escape Board
4 Electropower
1 Thunder Mountain Prism Star
1 Lisia
4 Ultra Ball
2 Acro Bike
3 Aether Paradise Conservation Area


12 Lightning Energy

21 Times Avatar

Yeah I whiffed on this card, I had it ranked 16th.

Yeah it’s really good.  There are about two hundred people who played it in Australia last weekend who will vouch for that.  There are about a dozen matches on Youtube from that tournament featuring this card, many of them mirror matches.  Go watch a couple of them, it’s like watching re-runs of an episode of the Office you’ve already seen about six times too many.

I’m still not playing a card that gets one shot by Baby Buzz (how much do you want to bet that Buzz Garb is going to return tomorrow at Collinsville and Cannes?).


Standard: 4 out of 5 (Just watch it get countered this weekend.)

And yes this is a really short review today to compensate for the sermon I laid on you guys yesterday.

Otaku Avatar

We close out this week with Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (SM – Team Up 33/181, 162/181, 184/181). This is one of the new Tag Team Pokémon, a new form of Pokémon-GX; all the same pro’s and cons of baseline Pokémon-GX apply, though are sometimes exaggerated, whether for good or ill. I wrote a short article explaining Tag Team Pokémon here; if you don’t feel like reading it, the main thing is that they give THREE PRIZES instead of just one or two when KO’d, are Basic Pokémon regardless of either Pokémon’s usual Stage, have massive HP scores, and even more powerful effects than you already expect to find on a Pokémon-GX. Which sounds like I’m guaranteeing they are going to be awesome, but there’s a reason we look at the different aspects of a card first separately, and then together. As stated, Pikachu & Zekrom-GX are Basic Pokémon, so they’re easy to field, eat up minimal deck space, can be your opening Active, and even have a natural advantage when it comes to utilizing certain effects, such as search or bounce. Pikachu & Zekrom-GX are a [L] Type Pokémon, which is not particularly good for exploiting Weakness right now. Anti-[L] Type effects are Expanded-only and not particularly effective, but the deciding factor is how recent [L] Type support is finally paying off.

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX have 240 HP; until recently, this was the second highest printed HP score and tricky to outright difficult to OHKO. You can’t guarantee this (these?) Pokémon will survive an attack, but it is quite likely, outside of obvious “big damage” decks or matchups against Weakness. In this case, Pikachu & Zekrom-GX have one of the worst Weaknesses to have in the game right now: [F]. It isn’t because [F] Types are everywhere but they could be.  We’ve got Buzzwole and a few others that work well in multiple decks. Buzzwole requires precise timing (attacking with it when your opponent is at EXACTLY four Prizes) and just one unit of [F] Energy, but then Buzzwole’s “Sledgehammer” attack swings for EXACTLY 240 damage after Weakness. Even if you do miss the timing, commonly run generic support like Choice Band means Sledge Hammer hits for 120 after Weakness. Pikachu & Zekrom-GX are [M] Resistant, and with 240 HP, the only reason it might not mean much is we aren’t currently seeing many heavy-hitting [M] decks. We saw some last year and we’ll probably see more from the next expansion, so not only am I pleased to see any Resistance, but this one could prove rather useful… just not right at this moment. These two have a chunky Retreat Cost of [CCC]; not enough to exploit Buff Padding, far too much to easily make use of Escape Board or make manually retreating an appealing option. Far from crippling, of course; we do still have Guzma, Escape Rope, Switch, etc.

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX have only two effects, the regular attack “Full Blitz” and the GX-attack “Tag Bolt-GX”, both priced at [LLL], at least up front. Full Blitz swings for 150 damage while also allowing you to search your deck for up to three [L] Energy cards, then attach them to one of your Pokémon. Simply put, you’re getting great damage for the Energy PLUS very good Energy acceleration. I’d call it “great” Energy acceleration, but to access it you’ve already got to have a pretty good chunk of Energy attached. As a point of reference, for the slightly lower cost of [LLC], Zeraora-GX can use “Plasma Fists” to do 160 damage BUT also can’t attack the next turn. Sure, shaking that effect is as easy as using a switching card to shift to a pivot Pokémon, then retreating for free back to the Zeraora-GX which just attacked, but that’s when we remember the Energy acceleration built into Full Blitz. Tag Bolt-GX delivers a solid 200 damage for the same price point, enough to OHKO much of the competitive cardpool; Electropower, possibly with more traditional damage buffs like Choice Band, can bring anything into OHKO range (though we’re only talking about base HP scores). For a GX-attack in general, seems good BUT maybe a little underwhelming compared to Full Blitz… and since you’ve read the card and the other reviews by now, you know what I’m getting at. If you have at least three extra [L] Energy attached to Pikachu & Zekrom-GX when you use Tag Bolt-GX, the attack also hits one the opposing Benched Pokémon of your choice for 170 damage. [LLLLLL] for a total of 370 damage would normally be ridiculous overkill, but this is enough to take out a Tapu Lele-GX on the Bench while also taking out whatever is in the Active position. Even taking out two single Prize Pokémon can be well with it, as your opponent’s main attacker is likely up front and you can also OHKO their spare attacker, key Bench-sitter, etc. at the same time.

No Theorymon needed to decide whether this is a good card or not; I haven’t run the deck myself, but plenty of players far better than me ran it at the Oceania International Championship last weekend, held in Melbourne, Australia. Out of the top eight decks in the Masters Division, 3rd, 4th, and 6th place went to [L] decks featuring Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. Out of the Top 64 of this 388 person event, 19 total decks were running Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. That’s almost 5% of all decks in that age bracket and 30% of the top 64! I was NOT expecting such a performance out of Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. I was in awe of what it could do when they first showed it off but quickly calmed myself down. After all, you’d need something like Magnezone (SM – Forbidden Light 36/131) to fuel it… unless you didn’t. Once you get one Pikachu & Zekrom-GX up and swinging with Full Blitz, it can power up the next, but how do you get [LLL] right away to get things started? Tapu Koko {*} can use its Ability to attach a basic Lightning Energy card from your discard pile to a Benched copy of Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (plus one other Benched Pokémon), retreat or use another effect to promote Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, manually attach another source of [L] Energy to it, and drop Thunder Mountain {*} into play, and you can Full Blitz as early as the second turn of the game! Is that super reliable? No, but it doesn’t need to be, because the rest of the deck includes low-cost attackers, like Jolteon-GX, Raikou (Shining Legends 32/73 ), Zapdos (SM – Team Up 40/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM159), Zeraora-GX, etc. When you can’t ready Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, you shift to one of these others.

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX has proven itself, so time to end the review, right? Just a little more to cover. One thing is a recently revealed Mew will have the familiar “Bench Barrier” Ability, protecting your entire Bench from attack damage. We already have Machoke (SM – Guardians Rising 64/145) and the superior protection offered via its “Daunting Pose” Ability, but that’s a Stage 1 and this Mew, like Mr. Mime (BW – Plasma Freeze 47/116) and Mr. Mime (XY – BREAKthrough 97/162; Generations 52/83), is a Basic and so that much easier to run. Such a thing won’t matter to Full Blitz, but it denies Tag Bolt-GX the effect which puts it over the top, even with the added Energy requirement. I know at least one other reviewer already mentioned it, but I find it unlikely the success this card already experienced won’t encourage more players to run competitive [F] decks, or find a way to work more [F] into existing decks. I focused on Buzzwole, but it is far from alone, and with Pikachu & Zekrom-GX being worth three Prizes, an opponent can even trade something like a Marshadow-GX or Lucario-GX and come out ahead. Still, Pikachu & Zekrom-GX are a strong presence in the current metagame, and will likely remain so for at least a few months. I’ve heard nothing of the deck in the Expanded Format; I’m blanking on any Expanded-exclusive combos I’d find worth the risk BUT I’m also not seeing why at least MOST of what makes this card work in Standard wouldn’t transfer over; just more competition and better disruption to REALLY worry about. If you pull this in the Limited Format, build a +39 deck out of it.


Standard: 3.7/5

Expanded: 3.5/5

Limited: 4.5/5

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX should have made our Top 11, but only aroramage had it on his list!  I was foolish enough to write it off as either a gimmick card or a placeholder Tag Team Pokémon for [L] decks. It might just be me being stubborn, but I’m still am uncertain as to how long Pikachu & Zekrom-GX will remain an especially strong play. Still, it already accomplished more than enough to prove aroramage right!


This card was aroramage’s fifth place pick on his personal top 11 list for SM – Team Up.

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