– SM Lost Thunder

Date Reviewed:
November 15, 2018

Ratings Summary:
Standard: 4.06
Expanded: 4.00
Limited: 4.42

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

Reviews Below:


And now we get to what would be the secret legendary of Sun & Moon – the world’s first Electric Mythical Pokemon, Zeraora, getting the GX treatment!

Zeraora-GX is a Basic Lightning Pokemon-GX, 190 HP, with a Fighting Weakness, a Metal Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 2. Thunderclap Zone is its Ability, and it acts like a Dark Cloak for Lightning Pokemon, granting any Pokemon with Lightning Energy a free Retreat. Plasma Fists is a 3-for-160 that prevents Zeraora-GX from attacking on the next turn, and Full Voltage GX costs 1 Energy and recharges your Pokemon with 5 basic Energy from the discard pile. 

We’ve all seen the Dark Cloak effect, we all know it’s good, we all know that if Zeraora-GX only had that Ability, it would see play. Plasma Fists is a super-solid move that can, with a Choice Band, offer up a KO in a pinch, and Full Voltage GX can be used in the midgame to power up your offense to carry you the rest of the way to victory. Needless to say, he’s solidly built, though he’ll suffer like all Lightning Pokemon in the advent of Buzzwole-GX.


Standard: 4/5 (nothing wrong with the Ability, it’s the best reason to play him)

Expanded: 4/5 (definitely a strong and very capable Pokemon)

Limited: 4.5/5 (if it wasn’t for the attack restriction, he’d dominate here too)

Arora Notealus: I kinda feel Zeraora ought to have been Electric/Fighting. Not only for the unique Type combination, but also for the fact that he looks like a Lucario got electrocuted by Pikachu! Like, why isn’t he a Fighting-Type? He’s even got his signature move of punching things with lightning!

Next Time: And the number…uh, 2 spot goes to…


Zeraora-GX, our number three pick, is one of the most exciting cards of the set because it blends several aspects from multiple cards….into one card! Being the poster-mon of this expansion, it supposed to have amazing effects. For the most part, it delivered. A couple look at some of the booster pack art might hint you that this particular Pokémon could be good/have potential.

Let’s start with Thunderclap Zone! This ability lets you retreat for FREE if your Pokemon has any Lightning energy attached to it. You’ve seen similar abilities such as Darkrai-EX’s Dark Cloak and Manaphy-EX’s Aqua Tube, so having a third Pokemon that does it broadens what decks you can build. Just like Keldeo-EX’s Rush In Ability with a Dark energy performed a pseudo switch, you can do the same with Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX with a Lightning energy or – ideally – Unit Energy LPM. And without Float Stone in the Sun & Moon format, those cards is your only hope of free switch and free retreat.

That’s not all it can do! Plasma Fists costs LLC for 160 damage, with the clause that prevents you from attacking next turn, not even its other attack. 160 damage takes care of most Stage 2s. Choice Band helps cover most Basic EX/GX Pokemon. This attack can even be improved with Lightning support of this set. With Electropower, each use grants a +30 boost for Lightning Pokemon. With three uses of Electropower and a Choice Band, you can OHKO the Max HP printed on a card: 270, before factoring other HP boosting or damage reducing items that they might have to counteract it. Another card that helps Lightning Pokemon is Thunder Mountain Stadium Prism Star, which reduces the attack cost by L (not C) for Lightning Pokemon. With that, Plasma Fists costs LC instead.

And then, there’s Full Voltage GX, which costs L (or free to use if Thunder Mountain is in play) and attaches FIVE basic energies from your discard pile to any of your Pokemon in any way you like. It helps assure you that the energies you’ve discarded won’t be in vain, and you can prep two, or even three attackers, ready to be unleashed! One must be careful of the aftermath, especially if your opponent sends some of your Pokemon back to your hand/deck/discard, undoing some of your setup and a wasted GX attack. This is an attack that you can use as soon as you like, and by using it early, you make Hala draw more cards for you.

Is there anything to watch out for? Well, the Fighting weakness is still dangerous, with Buzzwole still making a decent showing. 190 HP is good, but still not safe from a OHKO. The retreat cost of 2 is a pain if you didn’t have a Lighting energy attached to it (still a pain if abilities are offline). Shrine of Punishment limits it’s staying power. And some Pokémon takes no damage from EX/GX Pokemon. Besides the usual counters due to attributes, there’s no reason not to use Zeraora-GX, as it combines the aspects from Darkrai/Manaphy, Buzzwole-GX, and Turtonator-GX into one card, which makes it efficient.

This Pokémon would do well in Limited play as a +39 deck, though it be even better in a +38 deck, if you happen to pull two of them. The reason why I’m suggesting a +38 deck is that with two Zeraora-GX in play, Plasma Fists’ clause can be reset by retreating and promoting another Zeraora-GX and use Plasma Fist again. Full Voltage gets more use due to Sightseer in the set, which lets you discard cards from your hand, easily capitalizing on the GX attack. And with Thunder Mountain and four Electropower…actually, that’s too much luck to ask for in Limited. You won’t get everything from four packs.

  • Standard: 4.5/5
  • Expanded: 4.5/5
  • Limited: 4.75/5


Zeraora GX (LOT 201) explodes into the Pokemon Trading Card Game from the Lost Thunder expansion set.  I have to give credit where it’s due and congratulate the two Pojo reviewers who put this card as their number one and two cards because after going 7 W and 3 L after ten games with Zeraora, I definitely rated this card WAY too low.  I had it at thirteen (but someone else had it a lot lower than that!) and clearly I should have put it much higher than that. 

Zeraora GX has surprised me at how quickly it can attack.  The key contributor to this alacrity of development is the new Shuckle (LOT 16) from the Lost Thunder set.  Shuckle’s ability Fresh Squeezed essentially functions as a Battle Compressor for energy cards.  The plan is to get Zeraora GX in the active, defer, get at least one Shuckle on the bench, GX to put a couple more energy on the Zeraora in the active (and hopefully one on the bench too), and hit for 160 (or more!) on your second turn.

I know that sounds like a lot, but I was able to execute this strategy a significant number of times in the ten matches I played.  And if you can get a Zeraora powered up on the bench as well, you can consistently hit for 160 + turn after turn after turn because of Zeraora’s ability Thunderclap Zone which provides free retreat to any Pokemon with a Lightning energy attached.

And Zeraora benefits from another couple of cards from Lost Thunder – Electropower and Thunder Mountain Prism Stadium.  If you get a little lucky and get these cards in hand, they will really help Zeraora become that much more effective.  With a Choice Band and a single Electropower, Zeraora is hitting for 220 damage, enough to OHKO just about everything in the meta today.  I was lucky enough to get Thunder Mountain in hand in my opening turn in one game, and I will confirm that Zeraora’s GX attack is a free attack with the Thunder Mountain Stadium card in play.

One thing to watch for with Thunder Mountain though: it reduces your attacks by one Lightning energy – meaning if you have Thunder Mountain in play, you still need to have two Energy on Tapu Koko (SM 31).

So yeah I had no idea in my initial assessment of this card that it could potentially hit for 190 or 220 on your turn two (if you defer), and I was absolutely amazed at just how consistently it can do this.  This might just be the single fastest archetype in the game today, and I would highly recommend you try it out if you haven’t already.  I’ve got a couple of different decklists on PDC if you’re interested in getting some ideas from my builds.


Standard: 4 out of 5


The only things holding me back: the Fighting weakness and its 190 HP.  Two of the three matches I lost were to Fighting decks, and it’s pretty amazing how many Pokemon can hit 190 in this post LOT meta.  I’m going to have to re-do my damage from attacks analysis because I’m sure that the average attack is WAY more than the 100 damage it was when I did that study about a month ago.


Welcome to the third-place pick for would normally be our Top 10 Countdown that is, instead, a Top 11 for “reasons”. Zeraora-GX (SM – Lost Thunder 86/214, 201/214, 221/214) is another card that received quite a bit of early hype, but the energy then died down before resurging after release. Let’s run through the fundamentals of the card before diving deeper. Zeraora-GX is a Basic, [L] Type Pokémon-GX with 190 HP, [F] Weakness, [M] Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC], the Ability “Thunderclap Zone”, the attack “Plasma Fists”, and the GX-attack “Full Voltage-GX”. Thunderclap Zone zeroes out the Retreat Cost of your Pokémon with a source of [L] Energy attached to them; the Pokémon’s own Type is irrelevant, and the Energy can be basic of Special. Plasma Fists allows Zeraora-GX to attack for 160 damage at a cost of [LLC] while placing an effect on itself preventing it from attacking during your next turn. Full Voltage-GX lets you attach five basic Energy cards from your discard pile to your Pokémon as you see fit; spread them out evenly, attach them all to a single target, or something in between.

Being a Basic Pokémon is still the best; there are anti-Basic effects to worry about, but this is the easiest Stage to fit into your deck, to hit the field, etc. The [L] Type just got new toys like Electropower and Thunder Mountain {*} and only has to worry (a little) about Resistance and anti-Type effects in Expanded, but it isn’t so great at exploiting Weakness right now. Being a Pokémon-GX has its usual benefits for this card, as the stats and effects are overall very good, but anti-Pokémon-GX effects are already popular and potent, so Zeraora-GX is entering a hostile environment. Single-Prize attackers have also been more prominent, with some decks eschewing Pokémon-GX entirely; I don’t want to make a person paranoid about playing something worth two Prizes, but I don’t want anyone reading this to forget it really is a significant drawback. 190 HP is on the higher end for Basic Pokémon-GX, and has a good chance of surviving an attack… or it would if it wasn’t for the [F] Weakness. We’ve seen Pokémon like Buzzwole and Onix (SM – Lost Thunder 109/214) being splashed around, on top of actual [F] and blended [F] Type decks. Having a Weakness that is already being hunted is quite dangerous, and Zeraora-GX doesn’t have the HP to survive the most likely assailants.

The [M] Resistance is nice, though I’m not sure how often it will matter; besides the fact that the competitive [M] Type decks wax and wane in their efficacy, we also need to remember that the ones we have seen do well are like Metagross-GX, hitting so hard that even with Resistance 190 HP is a OHKO. The Retreat Cost of [CC] almost never matters because of Thunderclap Zone, but when it does it isn’t low enough to be good or high enough to be especially bad. Speaking of the Ability, Thunderclap Zone should seem familiar, as similar Abilities have appeared on Darkrai-EX (BW – Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108; BW – Black Star Promos BW46; BW – Legendary Treasures 88/113) and Manaphy-EX; the difference is that they zero out Retreat Costs for Pokémon with a [D] or [W] Energy attached, respectively. We know from those two that (almost) never worrying about Retreat Costs is a great thing, especially in a cardpool which lacks Float Stone (Float Stone released almost exactly a year after Darkrai-EX). Zeraora-GX can tag team with a card like Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX to fake a free Switch once per turn, just as Darkrai-EX and Keldeo-EX were once famous for doing.

Plasma Fists is also a recycled effect; this is just the “Blizzard Burn” attack found on Lapras-GX, but with the Energy requirements changed to match Zeraora-GX’s Typing. Lapras-GX was, for a time, competitive by doing 160-for-three, bumped up by available damage buffs: originally Muscle Band and/or Professor Kukui, later Choice Band and/or Professor Kukui. The deck could use cards like Aqua Patch and Max Elixir to accelerate basic [W] Energy onto multiple Lapras-GX, then cards like Manaphy-EX and various switching effects to shake the attack’s drawback effect… or just use Pokémon Ranger. Zeraora-GX has fewer options for Energy acceleration or shaking the effect, but it still has some and while having Electropower to up the damage it does. The base damage of Plasma Fists is enough to OHKO nearly all non-Pokémon-GX, while Choice Band or a copy of Electropower bring most Basic Pokémon-GX into range. Multiple copies of Electropower bring everything else into range; for now, you have to be concerned about the few decks that send up massive (200+ HP) attackers over and over again, though there is already an Item that can recycle copies of Electropower in Japan.

The GX-attack is also a recycled effect, this time cribbing from Turtonator-GX. Unlike with the others, Full Voltage-GX is an improvement over the Nitro Tank-GX attack of Turtonator-GX; it could only attach [R] Energy from your discard pile to your Pokémon in play, but Full Voltage-GX can attach any basic Energy. As the designers have taken great care to no longer make Special Energy cards that count as anything other than [C] when not in play, even though Nitro Tank-GX doesn’t specify basic [R] Energy cards, it may as well. This means that a deck just needs a source of [L] Energy and a GX-attack usage it can spare for Zeraora-GX to accelerate Energy, as early as T2 (Player 2’s first turn). Taking the rest of the card into account, that is great news for Zeraora-GX; what you likely need to take advantage of its Ability also lets you take advantage of its GX-attack, give or take enough basic Energy to be worth attaching already present. So Zeraora-GX has a bright future for Standard and Expanded Format play, right?

Yes, but NOT as bright as some are painting it. The anti-Pokémon-GX effects, the decks already trying to exploit [F] Weakness to punish Zoroark-GX, and a few useful co-attackers and Trainers we don’t have yet (but which Japan does) are why I am trying to slow down the hype train. Slow it down, but not derail it entirely. I’ve heard of a few impressive decks using it in Japan, but the older ones didn’t make the top 32 of the Champions League Tokyo tournament whose results you can find over on limitlesstcg.com. Of course, eight of those decks are missing so maybe it did show up in the gaps, but even then that would mean the best only managed a 13th place finish; good but not great. If Zeraora-GX really was absent from the entire top 32… it was just one event, with over 1200 participants. As with the gaps in the Top 32, it could be most of the Top 64 and we wouldn’t know. Until the newness wears off, I expect to see a decent amount of Zeraora-GX decks in Standard.

There will probably a few folks taking Zeraora-GX as far as they can in Expanded, but its prospects aren’t as good here as in Expanded (again, short-term, not long-term). Just about everything that should give you pause in running Zeraora-GX in Standard applies in Expanded, but worse. Even more competition and even more counters. I didn’t focus on anti-Item and anti-Ability tactics in Standard; they exist, most notably in Garbodor (SM – Guardians Rising 51/145, 51a/145) and Alolan Muk (respectively). Once you shift to Expanded, you have cards like Seismitoad-EX and Garbodor (BW – Dragons Exalted 54/124; BW – Plasma Freeze 119/116; BW – Legendary Treasures 68/113) or Garbodor (XY – BREAKpoint 57/122). Zeraora-GX is great in the Limited Format, though you should NOT try to run it in a Mulligan (+39) deck, where it is your only Basic Pokémon. Sure, Plasma Fists should be scoring OHKO’s, and you may even be able to accelerate into it, but being unable to attack every other turn gives your opponent time to either build something on the Bench or overwhelm your 190 HP with weak attackers. Now, just about everything else you could pull and build should be backed up by Zeraora-GX, which is why I called it “great” here.


Standard: 3.75/5

Expanded: 3.5/5

Limited: 4/5

Zeraora-GX has so much going for it, but some serious strikes against it. If you skimmed the rest of my review, know that you will have to figure out a way to deal with anti-Pokémon-GX decks, [F] Type decks, and other decks with a splashed in [F] Type attacker meant to punish Zoroark-GX. There are also Trashalanche decks that punish heavy Item usage, which is a problem when spiking damage with Electropower is one of your power plays. If countering the Abilities on Basic Pokémon becomes important, Alolan Muk is even easier to slip into a deck thanks to Ditto {*}. That’s just in the Standard Format; the Expanded Format hits Zeraora-GX’s weak points even harder. Still, get your copies of Zeraora-GX for later!

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