Zapdos – Vivid Voltage

Date Reviewed: December 18, 2020

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 2.00
Expanded: 1.00
Limited: 2.00

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

Reviews Below:

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Zapdos (SW – Vivid Voltage 048/185) is a baseline Pokémon; worth a single Prize when KO’d, and possessing no specialty mechanics.  Its [L] typing is solid; they don’t have all the wonderful support (in Standard) that they had pre-rotation, but they still enjoy some solid tricks.  They may even get some nice Weakness exploitation, if someone is trying to use a modern Water type to counter the various decent-to-good Fire decks.  Being a Basic has been and remains the best: space efficient, no waiting to evolve, and a synergy with various card effects or even general mechanics.  110 HP is likely to be OHKO’d, but there’s enough that Zapdos still has a legitimate chance of surviving a hit from time to time.  [L] Weakness means its fellow Lightning types only need to do 60 damage, which makes it fragile for that particular match-up.  [F] Resistance might barely flip it from being more to less likely to be OHKO’d by Fighting types, though that isn’t worth much.  A Retreat Cost of [C] is low and easy both to pay and recover from having paid.

Zapdos knows two attacks, “Drill Peck” and “Thunder Snipe”.  For [C], Zapdos can use Drill peck to do 20 damage.  Thunder Snipe costs [LLC], and says you must discard all Energy attached to Zapdos itself in order to use it.  If you do, you select one of your opponent’s Pokémon V or Pokémon-GX, then do 160 damage to it.  When targeting your opponent’s Active, Weakness and Resistance will still apply, as would damage bonuses from something like Leon or Vitality Band.  When targeting something on your opponent’s Bench, neither Weakness nor Resistance applies, but you could gain the damage bonus from Telescopic Sight.

Drill Peck is semi-functional filler; it gives you a single-attachment attack that can do a tiny bit of damage, and isn’t picky about the Energy type attached, either.  It isn’t a good attack, but it is far better than having nothing you can do for such a low cost.  Thunder Snipe has more substance to it, though it does seem overpriced.  160-for-three is good, especially on a single Prize Pokémon, is actually good. Discarding all attached Energy won’t matter if Zapdos gets OHKO’d, as it often will.  Being able to target any one of your opponent’s Pokémon would be great… but instead, you’re restricted to hitting those most likely to survive the attack; Pokémon-GX and Pokémon V.

Still, this is enough damage to OHKO a Dedenne-GX, and if the deck already runs Telescopic Sight, it brings Thunder Snipe’s damage up to the point it can one-shot Crobat V as well.  Lightning types are a bit odd when it comes to Energy acceleration; you could invest things like Tapu Koko {*} on Zapdos, but that is a one time trick.  You’re probably better off dropping Zapdos onto your Bench after something like Pikachu & Zekrom-GX are already using their “Full Blitz” attack to do 150 damage, plus attach up to three [L] Energy from your deck to one of your Pokémon.  We’re talking literal end game scenarios, for the most part; you’re two or three Prizes from winning, and your opponent has an injured (or small) Pokémon V or Pokémon-GX on their Bench.

Except you could just use Boss’s Orders with another attacker to take out said target in the Active position, plus that would work on single Prize Pokémon and Pokémon-EX.  You also don’t have to worry about your opponent having something like Mew (SM – Unbroken Bonds 76/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM215) on their Bench, protecting things with its “Bench Barrier” Ability.  If you haven’t used your GX-attack for the game, Pikachu & Zekrom-GX could prepare itself or a second copy to use “Tag Bolt-GX”; attaching six [L] Energy to one Pokémon is expensive, but Tag Bolt-GX does 200 to your opponent’s Active plus 150 to one of their Benched Pokémon (your choice which one).  You could also just use Cramorant V; it isn’t a single Prize Pokémon, but its “Spit Shot” is a better Thunder Snipe.  Except Cramorant V has 200 HP (a much better chance of surviving) and can hit any Pokémon, not just Pokémon V or Pokémon-GX.

In the Limited Format, you won’t have as many gusting effects, and retreating to “save” an injured Pokémon and deny your opponent a Prize, is a viable strategy here.  Thus, Thunder Snipe is much more valuable.  Zapdos still needs to be in a mostly or mono-Lightning deck, as Thunder Snipe is demanding, and you’ll usually need to build Thunder Snipe on your Bench as even here, 110 HP doesn’t last long.  The big problem is, an opponent who pulls a Pokémon V may not have it on their Bench, or have it there long enough for Thunder Snipe to hit.  If your opponent has no Pokémon V, then Zapdos is just so-so filler; 110 Basic Pokémon that can do 20 for [C] and has a Retreat cost of [C].


  • Standard: 2/5
  • Expanded: 1/5
  • Limited: 2/5

Zapdos has a problem; it is too specialized for its own good.  Still, there’s a chance I’m wrong and it will become the go-to sniping option for Lightning decks.  If you’re wondering, I’ll also mention here that Zapdos is not a runner-up from our countdown.  I believe we’ve finally covered all of those cards.  Which is good, as our next list will be coming soon.

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