Hello readers! Vince here with a card preview, this time featuring Zeraora-GX (SM Lost Thunder 86/214). As the English print had been revealed at PokeBeach – as in we got the information needed to review a card – I’ll be able to review as if it came out today, even though technically the Sun & Moon Lost Thunder expansion will be released around November 2018. As such, I would be going through the usual level of detail of what this card offers.
Being a Pokémon-GX means considerable high HP than their normal counterparts and have better attacks and abilities most of the time. However, GX Pokemon can be hindered by some of the cards that specifically counter or give them a hard time. It gets hit harder from Choice Band and some Pokémon and items cards can potentially block all damage or effects from GX Pokemon such as Hoopa (Shining Legends) and Alolan Ninetales (SM Burning Shadows). Being a Basic is the best due to the usual reasons: being easily brought into play and taking minimal deck space as opposed to Evolutions. Sure, there may be counters to Basic Pokémon, but not often enough that you should worry about while keeping that in mind. I suppose that means Alolan Muk and Glaceon GX can shut down abilities from EX/GX Pokemon while Pyroar (XY FlashFire) blocks all damage from Basic Pokémon. Being a Lightning type means you can exploit weakness found on a variety of Pokémon that represent the Water/Flying Type in the games. It also gets Type specific support from the available card pool of the Expanded format. This can include two new cards that will be mentioned later as well as Flash Energy that removes weakness from Lightning Pokemon. Lightning based acceleration exists in the form of Eelectrik and Magnezone.
190 HP isn’t the highest for EX/GX Pokemon, but is on the happy side of average, and Metal Resistance helps to some extent, making Metal Pokemon hit 210 for the OHKO. Fighting weakness is still bad, at least for the Expanded format where a wide assortment of Fighting Pokemon and Strong Energy will remain almost forever. It is a little safe in Standard where some of the Fighting support has left the format, but Buzzwole-GX can push the boundaries further; with Beast Energy, Diancie Prism Star, and Choice Band, Jet Punch can still OHKO Zeraora-GX. The non-GX Buzzwole, however, can chiefly OHKO this Pokemon with Sledgehammer if your prize count has four cards remaining. And finally, a retreat cost of two leaves us with the impression that we would rather not pay to retreat, but we could do that once in a while. Except that Zeraora-GX has a trick that makes one attribute irrelevant.
Thunderclap Zone is the name of the Ability and it makes any Pokemon with Lightning energy have no retreat cost. Sounds familiar? That’s because we’ve seen it before on different Pokémon. Darkrai-EX from BW Dark Explorers did that for Darkness Energy while Manaphy-EX did that for Water Energy. Darkrai-EX saw a lot of play when it came out and to this day, still a great card despite competition being fierce. Manaphy-EX didn’t see as much play, probably because of being a frail 120 HP bench sitter. Zeraora-GX is bulkier than the two. As always, this is a very useful ability as it lets you keep your energies attached to your Pokemon when it retreats and it also overrides printed retreat cost and even certain cards that raises the retreat cost. I’ve used the example before, even with four Jellicents (BW Boundaries Crossed) and CCCC retreat cost that makes it CCCCCCCC………the entire cost gets zeroed out! Much like how you would use Keldeo-EX with a Darkness Energy to optimize Rush In and Dark Cloak, now you can do the same with Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX and ideally Unit Energy LPM to optimize Invasion and Thunderclap Zone.
So that’s one way you can use Zeraora-GX, but it can be a competent attacker as well. Plasma Fists costs LLC for 160 damage with the clause saying that this Pokémon cannot attack for the next turn. Again, this clause is made irrelevant because there are ways to play around. Remember that putting a Pokémon from the Active into the Bench via retreating or switching removes Special Conditions and effects placed on the Pokémon prior to switching/retreating. With Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX, you use the Invasion ability and then use your manually retreat to re-promote Zeraora-GX back to the Active, ready to use Plasma Fists again. 160 damage can take out most single-prize Pokémon and Choice Band makes it KO a good amount of Basic EX/GX Pokemon, even if Zeraora-GX is facing certain Pokémon that it is weak to.
Then we get to the GX attack. Full Voltage costs L and puts five basic energy from the discard pile to any of your Pokemon. This is one of those occasions where I’m glad that this kind of effect is restricted to being used once per game because this attack seems powerful despite using up your attack and using up your GX attack for the match. You can potentially set up two attackers; it could be itself and another attacker whose cost is three Energy. Even if your opponent takes out one of them, they still another to deal with. And because the type of basic energy isn’t restricted to a certain type, you can help set up different Pokémon. Trying to have five basic energy in the discard pile isn’t too hard. Standard still has Ultra Ball and the new Sightseer Card while Expanded has Sycamore and Battle Compressor, just to name a few. Don’t think your setup stays intact however, as there are a few cards that can undo your setup, like Sylveon-GX’s Plea attack, as it kicks out two Pokémon with all cards attached to it into your hand. They’ll have to use Guzma beforehand and they’ll kick out both your potential attacker and Zeraora-GX into your hand. And even though you can easily put them on your Bench, you are behind on energy attachments, and a wasted GX attack due to such timing. That’s the only scenario I can think of because for other cards, they at least let you control which Pokémon leaves play if you have lots of Benched Pokemon in play.
The package deal for this card is solid, but it can be improved by other cards. You see, this set came not just this Pokémon, but with Electripower and Thunder Mountain Prism Star Stadium card. With Electripower, you can use this as many times as you like; for each use, your Lightning Pokemon do 30 more damage to the Defending Pokemon. With however as much use as you see fit, you can hit important numbers for securing KOs. That’s one potential reason why Puzzle of Time needs to go as it enables repeated use of powerful cards regardless of category. Volkner can help search to Electripower easily and a Basic Lightning Energy, so he might see a bit more play. Thunder Mountain, on the other hand, can be vicious even if it means being a Stadium card that could be sent to the Lost Zone due to the Prism Star rule. Items and Supporter cards won’t affect this card but playing another Stadium card and certain Pokémon attacks still removes it. If that’s the case, you would at least still benefit for one turn. What this Stadium card does is each Lightning Pokémon’s attacks costs L less. This shaves off one of the attack costs that involves L. Not sure about C costs as the wording specifically states L; probably it should because C can be any color. So looking back at Zeraora-GX, its attacks cost LC and free respectively, which is phenomenal. For a Lightning deck, it could set up even three attackers assuming the Stadium card is intact. And even if this Stadium card gets removed, your manual attachment can eventually meet that attack cost.
Overall, Zeraora-GX has a lot going for it in a similar way like Darkrai-EX, as it can create many different decks due to what this card has to offer. This card will see lots of play, and I recommend getting a full playset before supply gets scarce and prices rise. In Limited play, this is a must run……if you pulled two of them because with just one (if you did a +39 deck), you can only use Plasma Fist once every two turns, and that may be way too long. With two, you can alternate between the two, resetting the clause and use that attack over and over again. If there’s cards that help you discard basic energy cards, then Full Voltage GX becomes more viable in Limited.
- Standard: 4.5/5
- Expanded: 4.5/5
- Limited: 4/5
Conclusion: The increased card pool that gives competition and counters has kept Zeraora-GX from being scored too highly like its predecessors but it is a great card. This could be the next big thing as it brings back a familiar concept that saw successful play in the past. With three different types already performing this trick one might wonder if eventually every single type based support will provide the free retreat; only time will tell!