SM Team Up 40/181 Zapdos
SM Team Up 40/181 Zapdos

#11 Zapdos
– SM Team Up

Date Reviewed:
February 1, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 3.25
Expanded: 3.00
Limited: 2.67

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

Reviews Below:


You ever just wake up one day and it’s a Top 11 Friday? That’s like me today. I have been wayyyyyyyyyy off with the reviews, but if there’s one thing you can always count me to weigh in on, it’s a Top 11 List!

…what about the Top 11 of 2018? I mean yeah, sure, I maybe missed like half of those-look that’s not the point! The POINT is, WELCOME to the Top 11 of the new Team-Up set! Featuring the latest in sorta new mechanics, the Tag Team Pokemon-GX – each featuring pairs of Pokemon that share a massive amount of HP and deal with massively powerful moves!

Got that part? Good, cause none of them made the list. No, not even Magikarp & Wailord-GX.

What did make the list might just as well shock you as it did us. Seems like we all had a very different idea of what could be good in this set. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing – a set could have a lot of good cards for different reasons, and having such a diversity means there’s a lot of potential for cards that made this list – and cards that didn’t make the list – to have an impact on the game…or not so much.


Zapdos is a Basic Lightning Pokemon, 110 HP, with a…Lightning Weakness? A Fighting Resistance and a Retreat Cost of 2. That’s right, it’s using the Flying converted Weakness/Resistance, making it a pretty good addition to Lightning decks to vary up the Weakness, thus giving them a better attacker against Fighting decks. The only attack he’s got though is Thunderous Assault, a 1-for-10 move that does 70 more damage if Zapdos flew the Bench into your Active slot, whether by the command of some Guzma or by a healthy dose of manual Retreating of another Active Pokemon.

Oh, and it doesn’t hit for Weakness.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but how does any attack that doesn’t hit for Weakness land a Pokemon in the Top X List of anything? Okay, a 1-for-80 on paper sounds pretty good, but we’ve seen very similar moves from a variety of Pokemon in the past, all for different reasons, most of them usually hitting for higher numbers. 80 is that odd number that comes just a little short of 90, the golden standard for 2HKOs on most anything besides EX/GX, and we’re getting Tag Team GX that look like they’re bursting at the seams to get beyond the current maximum of 250 HP – Magikarp & Wailord-GX now holding the max at 300 HP. AND YOU’RE NOT EVEN HITTING THAT FOR WEAKNESS!!

So why does Zapdos make this list? Its attack is powerful, under the right circumstances, it’s got favorable Weakness/Resistance to fit in naturally with any Lightning deck, but it’s nothing that I’d be expecting to be better than a lot of other cards that could’ve made the list. I’d even go so far as to suggest that he’s even a bit on the mediocre side, if only because 1-for-80 with another card’s worth of investment doesn’t seem like it’s that good. Never mind that you’d have to consistently and constantly be switching Zapdos out to make the most of Thunderous Assault, and that doesn’t seem like it’s competitive material…at least, not until you look back at the last set.

Lost Thunder gave Lightning decks some really powerful tools, including Electropower which ups the damage by 30 and Thunder Mountain <Prism> which can make their attacks cheaper by 1 Lightning Energy. In other words, Zapdos has the ability to have a free 0-for-80 or even 0-for-110 move with the right combination of cards in hand. It’s something that didn’t really click for me until I started writing this review and take a look back at Lost Thunder for a moment, and it’s likely the real reason Zapdos – an otherwise decently solid card – ended up clawing its way onto the Top 11 List.


Standard: 3.5/5 (definitely a solid card, though I don’t know if I’d say it’s the best the set has to offer)

Expanded: 3.5/5 (Electropower does boost the overall power, but it’s Thunder Mountain <Prism> that really brings it home for Zapdos)

Limited: 3.5/5 (again, needs that switching component)

Arora Notealus: Given the inclination of decks these days to focus on the smaller Pokemon that can dish out multitudes of damage – see Granbull as a prime example – it’s possible that a Zapdos deck may spring up to take advantage of Thunderous Assault. My immediate thought with that deck though is that, in the ideal situation, you’ve got Thunder Mountain <Prism> in play and tons of Switching cards, but most of the time, you’re likely to have to have 2 Zapdos in play, each with a Lightning Energy, and a few drawing cards to access your Switching cards to be doing it consistently, and even then you’re competing against other decks that’ll be able to brush past the 110 HP that Zapdos has to get through.

Weekend Thought: Are you excited for the Team-Up set? Think the Tag Team-GX are really cool? Are you going to try and build a deck around these new Big Basics? Do you think the Tag Team-GX will be too powerful to be left alone, or are they not as crazy powerful as they might seem at first glance?

Next Time: We know what happens on the road to that famous city, but coming out of it…


Welcome to the countdown of our Top 11 Picks of SM – Team Up. We’re kicking things off on Friday because we thought we’d try something different. Even though this is now our third top 11 in a row… Here is an article where I explain the fundamentals out our countdown lists. We normally don’t do a Top 11 countdown, but SM – Lost Thunder was not only huge but we had a multi-card nominee take first. I wasn’t sure how to handle it and we ended up with a bizarre mess. 2018 ended on a Monday, so we did a Top 11 countdown as it fit the calendar. That is kind of what we have here; the Pokémon Company International likes to officially release sets on a Friday and has been doing so for quite some time, so why not just do a Top 11 so we can begin the countdown on release day but still have a full two weeks after?

Our 11th-place finisher is Zapdos (SM – Team Up 40/181), and just from the name you should already be able to tell we’re not dealing with any specialty mechanics; this is your bog-standard single-Prize baseline Zapdos. It is a [L] Type, which means it can take advantage of [L] support like Electropower or Thunder Mountain {*}. Anti-[L] effects and [L] Resistance are Expanded-only (and not usually encountered there), and exploiting [L] Weakness isn’t a thing due to the attack (more on that in a bit). Being a Basic Pokémon makes Zapdos speedy and space efficient, with the other usual perks and handful of drawbacks (you don’t want to open with Zapdos). It has 110 HP, enough that it isn’t incredibly fragile, but most of the time Zapdos will go down in one shot. Other [L] attackers can smack Zapdos extra easily due Zapdos’ [L] Weakness, but Zapdos has a slightly better chance of surviving a hit from [F] Types due to its [F] Resistance. The Retreat Cost could be a pain (again, more on that when we get to the attack); [CC] can be painful when resources are tight but isn’t too bad otherwise. Zapdos can attack with “Thunderous Assault” for [L]. This only does 10 damage unless Zapdos moved from your Bench into your Active position this turn, in which case it does 80. The attack also clearly states it does not apply Weakness; not  deal breakers but these do hurt the card’s usefulness.

80-for-one is a solid deal, but on its own, it wouldn’t be enough, especially with it being conditional. Fortunately, Zapdos exists in a cardpool and even metagame that favors much of what it needs. Not only can Choice Band and Professor Kukui help up that damage, but so can Electropower. You’re not going to be able to bust out sick OHKO’s for one Energy turn after turn, but it is plausible you could do it up to thrice per game, and three OHKO’s against three Pokémon-GX is a win. You’ll need the help for OHKO’s against single Prize attackers, like Granbull (SM – Lost Thunder 138/214), as well, which is a bit of a concern. That, or perhaps you’ll need to partner Zapdos up with something else for those times. Is it really going to be viable to do all this? Well, what little data I’ve got on the Japanese metagame suggests it will be, but exactly how much isn’t clear. I don’t want to run through the entire deck in this CotD, so head on over to Limitless to see the list for yourself. The concise version is it needs a lot of Trainers each turn for optimal performance but includes means of getting those Trainers somewhat reliably. Sometimes, it’ll have to settle for 2HKO’s, and sometimes, it’ll totally misfire. Like Granbull, one or two hiccups will only cost you the game if it was already going to be close.


  • Standard: 3.2/5
  • Expanded: 2.5/5
  • Limited: 2/5

Zapdos looks like it’ll be at least one of the main attackers in a new, competitive deck in Standard; it is very dependent on its combos, so I don’t wish to score it too highly.  It may have a shot in Expanded; I’m mostly worried about Item or Ability lock knocking Zapdos’ support out from under it.  You’ll usually have to Retreat to get Zapdos into and out of the Active spot in Limited; still might be worth running to deliver a coup de grâce but don’t rely on it.


Zapdos (TUP 40) begins our top 11 cards of the brand spanking new Team Up expansion set that drops TODAY!  This Basic Lightning type Pokemon has 110 HP and an attack that has everyone buzzing.  Thunderous Assault, for a single Lightning energy, does … wait for it … TEN DAMAGE!

OK OK you probably have already heard about this card.  It’s been tearing up the scene in Japan because it actually does 70 more damage if it moves into the active position during your current turn.  This means that – just like Golisopod GX – if one of your Pokemon gets KO’d, you need to promote something other than Zapdos into the active.  If you directly promote Zapdos in the nebulous time between turns, that Zapdos’ Thunderous Assault will only do ten damage.

And the card that many people are choosing to promote (because let’s face it, it’s hard to find a competitive archetype today that doesn’t hit for something well in excess of 110 damage each turn) is the new Jirachi (TUP 99).  I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you when I say that we’ll review Jirachi at some point in the next two weeks (although you would be VERY surprised if I told you some of the cards that didn’t make the top ten… but I’m not letting that cat out of the bag), but this Pokemon lets you look at your top five cards and select any Trainer card you find there.  Jirachi then falls asleep, but you can still run Escape Board or switches to then get Zapdos into the active and start chipping away at your opponent.

In the dream scenario, with Choice Band, a couple of Electropowers, and a Shrine, Thunderous Assault hits for at least 180.  Unfortunately, that’s where much of the bad theorymonning I’ve experienced starts up.  My main problem is that most of the people analyzing this deck seem to think that you’ll be able to get multiple Electropowers every turn.  Even with Electrocharger (which puts  Electropowers into your deck NOT your hand) and Jirachi (and also realize  Jirachi only looks five cards forward – don’t be surprised if it doesn’t find the Trainer you desperately need in those five cards), you’re not going to get two Electropowers every turn.  It’s just not going to happen.  

Thunderous Assault is going to most likely hit for just 110 each turn (and maybe only 80 some turns).  Especially against single prize featured Pokemon, I can see many situations where Zapdos is two shotting things like Granbull or Kyurem or Blissey, while those cards will rip through a Zapdos every single turn.  And Zapdos will never hit anything for weakness, while it is actually weak to other Electric types, which I’m sure will be a lot more common starting today.


Standard: 3 out of 5


Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to try this.  I’ve already published a decklist on it here.  I just think that the amount of damage that it does over the course of a game will be less than what I think people are imagining it will be right now.  That’s why I’m playing it with Shedinja, trying to get a few extra attacks that might just make those little pokes add up to enough damage to win the game.

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