Reshiram all the way. (With a few exceptions)
- Fusion Flare for Reshiram is a bigger upgrade (7%) than Fusion Bolt for Zekrom (2-3%).
- Despite the 2-3% being very small, Fusion Bolt is better than Wild Charge in the vast majority of cases.
- Fusion Flare makes Reshiram the best non-mega Fire, overtaking shadow legends. Fusion Bolt only puts Zekrom ahead of shadow non-legends sometimes, but it’s still behind Xurkitree and Shadow Raikou.
- Fusion Flare Reshiram is the best counter against almost everything it counters, except when Shadow Metagross is usable. Fusion Bolt Zekrom and Xurkitree are generally worse than Kartana against Water, but remain supreme against .
- Utility in T5 and mega raids: While Zekrom beats a greater number of T5 bosses, Reshiram covers the more useful T5 & future mega bosses. Reshiram is also less replaceable (double weaknesses etc).
- Zekrom is a better Dragon attacker than Reshiram, but not the priority.
- Reshiram is future-proof until/unless Mind Blown Blacephalon and Shadow Chandelure/Entei/Heatran with signature moves happen, if the moves are OP.
- Xurkitree already outclasses Zekrom, and Wildbolt Storm Thundurus-T probably will too. But IF Zekrom gets Thunder Fang, it will be a massive upgrade that blows everything out of water again, though even that can be surpassed by Wild Charge Xurkitree.
Raiding priority: Prioritize Reshiram. Unless you missed Xurkitree/Kartana and lack electric teams – see last section of the article.
Elite TM: Reshiram is clearly the more worthy candidate (though probably not 6). Zekrom… I think only when you have excess ETMs.
Keep reading for:
- Why 1-bar moves are not always as bad as you may think
- Fusion Bolt vs Wild Charge, and Zekrom vs Xurkitree
- Future Fire and Electric attackers (or: why Gen 9 electrics are power crept from day 1)
- More detailed advice in the last section
- List of my previous analyses (in Appendix 2)
Happy New Year! This year, Niantic surprised us with two legendaries and their signature moves to start the year: Reshiram with Fusion Flare, and Zekrom with Fusion Bolt.
- Reshiram will be in raids until the morning of January 10, followed by Zekrom until the morning of January 18.
- While both fusion moves are raid-exclusive, you will also be able to use an Elite Charged TM to get the moves when they enter raids.
When both Reshiram and Zekrom were last available in raids in December 2021, I wrote an analysis on them as raid attackers, but with their non-legacy moves Overheat and Wild Charge. (That article uses a very different methodology compared to what I typically do nowadays.) The fact that we’re already getting their signature moves right now comes as a complete surprised to me; not to mention the Gen 3-4 box legendaries haven’t received this treatment yet!
Anyway, it’s time for a “modern” update of the 2021 analysis. How much improvement do their signature moves make? How do they stack up against new releases in 2022? Are they future proof? Let’s find out.
1-bar moves are not always trash!
Both Fusion Flare and Fusion Bolt cost 100 energy in PvE, so they belong to what’s traditionally known as “1-bar” moves. I know, I know, some of you will automatically start to discredit them, especially in favor of the 2-bar (50 energy) Wild Charge that Zekrom naturally learns.
Because of this, in the past few weeks after I posted preliminary DPS/TDO tables of Reshiram and Zekrom, I’ve faced several disagreements. Some expressed their opinions in a civil manner, while others took it to my inbox to accuse me of spreading “massive amounts of information” and claiming that just because Fusion Flare is a 1-bar move, “nothing will change”.
This post is not trying to make fun of them; rather, it’s to examine whether these claims do have merit.
Let’s start with theoretical metrics and tools, such as the GamePress DPS/TDO spreadsheet. As I’ve done in some of my recent articles, to evaluate the quality of charged moves themselves (detached from the Pokémon and fast move), I use a typeless Arceus with Tackle (an average fast move), aka the “Arceus Test”:
Keeping in mind these are just purely theoretical calculations, here’s what we can say:
- Fusion Bolt is a little bit stronger than Fusion Flare. (The move itself, not on Zekrom and Reshiram.)
- In raw DPS, they’re both in the same ballpark as moves like Psystrike and Blast Burn, which are both classic overpowered (OP) moves.
- Both are slightly weaker than a few other OP moves: 1-bar Meteor Beam and Shadow Force, 2-bar Frenzy Plant and Meteor Mash.
- Both are much better than common 1-bar moves you might be thinking of, such as Overheat, Earthquake and Stone Edge. (Some of these are indeed weak, and that’s part of what made 1-bar moves have a poor reputation.)
A caveat is that 1-bar charged moves have several pitfalls in raids:
- Inconsistency. Charged moves only deal damage if you actually get to 100 energy (and have them register in time) before you faint. If you’re knocked out at 70 energy? Welp. 2-bar and 3-bar moves deal damage more consistently, because getting to 50 energy is much easier.
- Energy waste. Energy is always capped at 100 in both PvE and PvP. If you get more than 100, the extra energy is wasted. This most frequently happens when you tank a charged move from the boss, since in PvE you generate energy from taking damage too. With multi-bar moves, you can bank 70 energy, use a charged move, and still have 20 or 37 energy left.
- Inflexibility. Some skilled raiders may optimize charged move timing for better performance, such as delaying your charged move in order to dodge (instead of using your own charged move immediately and then being unable to dodge due to cooldown), stacking up 2 charged moves and use both at once (to stop the boss from reaching its charged move too fast), etc. A lot of them are hard or impossible with 1-bar charged moves.
The table above doesn’t consider any of that. However, battle simulators such as Pokebattler do account for them (or at least points 1 and 2). So let’s see what the simulations have to say about Reshiram and Zekrom’s performance with their brand new moves!
Fusion Flare Reshiram among Fire attackers
See Appendix 1 (at the end of this article) for technical details and how to read the charts. The Chandelure analysis also contains explanations on ASE vs ASTTW.
Reshiram with Fire Fang and the new move Fusion Flare (FFFF) is the best non-mega Fire-type raid attacker, period. Above Reshiram, we have the two OP megas (Charizard Y and Blaziken), and that’s it.
- Considering you can only bring one mega in the battle party, this means Reshiram is the best Fire type that you can use multiples of.
- Fusion Flare’s improvement over Overheat (in practice) is around 7% across different metrics.
- This lines up well with the 6.8% theoretical DPS/ER improvement.
- For context: Reshiram vs Chandelure is 8-10% depending on metric. Giratina’s Shadow Force was only a 4% improvement over Shadow Ball.
- L40 Fusion Flare Reshiram > L50 Chandelure
- L35 Fusion Flare Reshiram > L40 Overheat Reshiram
While 7% isn’t too drastic, it’s still quite notable. But most importantly, FFFF Reshiram now overtakes all shadow legendary Fire types (albeit insignificantly): Shadow Moltres, Apex Shadow Ho-Oh and Shadow Entei – which used to be the only things above it. Even if your shadows have 100% IVs!
- FFFF Reshiram vs Shadow Moltres is largely typing-dependent, but not always. There are still 40% +/- of bosses and boss movesets where Shadow Moltres takes the lead. So your Shadow Moltres didn’t suddenly become useless, not even close.
So, despite someone accusing me of “spreading massive amounts of misinformation”, the 7% improvement prediction I made was exactly correct.
Comparing FFFF Reshiram to attackers of other types
Against steel: Terrakion recently took over all non-mega Fire types to become the best non-mega anti-Steel when it got Double Kick, but now FFFF Reshiram catches up and becomes basically equivalent again. In practice, it will be typing-dependent.
Against ice: Overheat Reshiram was already better than non-shadow Meteor Mash Metagross, but Fusion Flare solidifies that advantage even further. Shadow Metagross remains supreme, though.
Basically, whenever you can use FFFF Reshiram, it’s one of the best non-mega non-shadow counters in neutral weather.
(Technical only) Fusion Flare: Even better than the DPS table says?
This section is for nerds only, and it’s quite long. Feel free to skip. TL;DR: FF/FF has slightly better performance than FF/Blast Burn despite slightly lower DPS!
Fusion Flare being better than Overheat should be no surprise, since the former takes almost half the time while only compromising 20 power.
But what about comparing with Blast Burn? Reshiram can’t learn it, but in a “what-if” scenario, FF/BB Reshiram does have 0.4% higher raw DPS than FF/FF. Not to mention Fusion Flare suffers from the 3 pitfalls of 1-bar moves, but Blast Burn doesn’t. That should mean Blast Burn is the clear winner, right?
No. You’d be surprised. Just like I was.
|Charged Move||Fusion Flare||Blast Burn|
|ASE (@ L40)||1.130||1.141|
Bolded means better.
So despite Blast Burn’s 0.4% higher cycle DPS, it actually ends up being ~1% worse than Fusion Flare in practice!
I also checked the detailed breakdown by bosses and boss movesets. If we restrict ourselves to T5 and Mega raids only:
- Out of the 35 bosses (if they all use random movesets), there are only 3 bosses (8.6%) where Blast Burn has a better estimator. With dodging, and with TTW, this reduces to only 1 boss.
- Out of all 267 boss-with-specific-moveset combinations, only 26% of them favor Blast Burn over Fusion Flare in either estimator or TTW. If you dodge, it’s only 17%.
If T3 raids are included, the numbers are similar.
Not only is Fire Fang/Blast Burn Reshiram worse than Fire Fang/Fusion Flare in most cases, it even has less of a niche than Shadow Moltres! (Shadow Moltres has worse ASE and ASTTW than BB Reshiram, but all numbers in the two bullet points would be higher.)
This is truly amazing, at least to me. For a 1-bar move to outperform a 2-bar move with better DPS? I bet nobody here would have told you this beforehand.
u/Elastic_Space gives the following theoretical explanation, in an attempt to explain what’s happening in practice:
Comparison between 3 Blast Burn and 2 Fusion Flare: 3 Blast Burn is 9.9 seconds, 330 damage; 2 Fusion Flare + 6 Fire Fang is 9.8 seconds, 352 damage. Thus if Reshiram faints after 2 Fusion Flare and before 4 Blast Burn, Fusion Flare wins.
With a little extra energy from damage: reaching a Blast Burn needs 6 Fire Fang (5.4s, 48 energy, 72 damage); reaching a Fusion Flare needs 12 Fire Fang (10.8s, 96 energy, 144 damage). 1 BB cycle is 8.7s, 182 damage (20.9 DPS); 1 FF cycle is 13s, 284 damage (21.8 DPS). In 2 BB cycles (17.4s, 364 damage), the FF moveset can conduct 1 FF cycle + 5 Fire Fang (17.5s, 344 damage), with the energy bar half-filled.
2 FF cycles and 3 BB cycles almost have the same lengths: 2 FF cycles is 26s, 568 damage; 3 BB cycles is 26.1s, 546 damage.
Between 8.7s and 13s BB wins; between 13s and 17.4s FF wins; between 17.4s and 26s BB wins. After that FF wins again, until the 4th BB is finished (34.8s, 728 damage), when the FF cycle needs 4.2 more seconds to conduct the 3rd FF. If using the damage window numbers, it becomes 8.15s-12.3s (BB), 12.3s-16.85s (FF), 16.85s-25.3s (BB), 25.3s-34.25s (FF), 34.25s-38.3s (BB).
TL;DR of quote above: Energy cycles. 2 Fusion Flares and 3 Blast Burns take about the same time, but the former does significantly more damage up to that point. Given Reshiram’s bulk, getting to 2 FFs seems quite doable, even more so if you consider energy from taking damage. FF’s short duration helps it, while BB’s long duration hinders it.
Fusion Bolt Zekrom among Electric attackers
First, a clarification: Why did I write “(Fusion Bolt* or WC)”?
- This means taking the better performing move against each boss – that is, we have the future sight to know which charged move will do better, and stick to only using that move during the entire raid. (The Xurkitree line does the same with Thunder Shock vs Spark.)
- This is NOT “use FB when you can, then throw a WC just before you faint”.
- However, if you only use FB and ignore WC, the difference is negligible (<0.1%).
- That’s a long way to say: Yes, that line is basically just Fusion Bolt.
Back to business.
Fusion Bolt is an upgrade over Wild Charge on Zekrom (with fast move Charge Beam), but a minor one, 2-3%.
Even though this small upgrade means FB Zekrom overtakes Shadow Electivire and Magnezone in Estimator (on average), unfortunately, it fails to overcome the supreme Electric types, most notably XURKITREE. Sorry, but at the moment, your resources go to Xurkitree.
- Even Shadow Electivire and Shadow Magnezone get to fight back in 6+ player lobbies with no relobbying (using TTW), or if you dodge.
Later sections will compare Fusion Bolt vs Wild Charge, and Zekrom vs Xurkitree, in greater detail.
Comparing Xurkitree & FB Zekrom to attackers of other types
Against flying: Both Xurkitree and FB Zekrom are better than every Rock and Ice attacker as anti-flyers (except typing differences). My Kyurem analysis contains a detailed comparison plot, in the “Ice vs Electric vs Rock” section.
Against water: Kartana is better than all Electric types (except typing differences). My Kartana analysis contains a detailed comparison plot, in the “Grass vs Electric” section.
- Note that even though many Water-type bosses have Ice-type coverage moves, Kartana only takes neutral damage. Instead, Zekrom takes super effective damage.
Fusion Bolt vs Wild Charge
Fusion Bolt has 3.0% more DPS than Wild Charge when used on Zekrom. However, Fusion Bolt suffers from issues with 1-bar moves, while Wild Charge does not – it’s already well-known as a great 2-bar move. This has led to people believing Wild Charge will be better in practice.
Yet, simulations are in support of Fusion Bolt. There is indeed a small discrepancy due to the “3 pitfalls of 1-bar moves”, because in this case, both ASE and ASTTW only have a 2.3% difference, instead of 3.0% as suggested by DPS. However, the discrepancy is too small to favor the weaker Wild Charge.
- The discrepancy also goes away if you dodge, since dodging mitigates the issues with 1-bar moves.
If you’re still sceptical, let’s do a detailed comparison. Using only T5 and Mega bosses, at L40 best friends:
|FB better||WC better|
|By boss||83% (20/24)||17% (4/24)|
|By boss (dodge)||100% (24/24)||0% (0/24)|
|By boss moveset||73% (143/197)||27% (54/197)|
|By boss moveset (dodge)||100% (197/197)||0% (0/197)|
Estimator and TTW have almost the same numbers. Including T3s doesn’t change this significantly.
Even if you don’t dodge, Wild Charge is still only better in 1/4 of all scenarios. If you do dodge charged moves, Fusion Bolt is always better. Always.
Note that simulators cannot use the strategy “throw a WC before you faint, if you can’t get to another FB”. Doing that will probably result in further improvements, but it’s hard to measure. If you’re very technical, unlocking a second move and getting both FB and WC will achieve the best performance, but I doubt it’s worth 100k dust and 100 rare candies.
FB Zekrom vs Xurkitree
But the real enemy of Fusion Bolt Zekrom is not Wild Charge Zekrom… It’s Xurkitree.
Theoretically, Xurkitree and FB Zekrom have almost the same ER, but being a glass cannon, the former has 11% more DPS. That indeed translates to being better in practice, though with a much smaller gap than the DPS difference:
|Zekrom better||Xurkitree better|
|Estimator, by boss||17% (4/24)||83% (20/24)|
|Estimator, by boss (dodge)||0% (0/24)||100% (24/24)|
|Estimator, by boss moveset||25% (50/197)||75% (147/197)|
|Estimator, by boss moveset (dodge)||9% (18/197)||90% (179/197)|
|TTW||0% (0/24)||100% (24/24)|
|TTW, by boss moveset||5% (9/197)||95% (188/197)|
Zekrom can choose between Fusion Bolt and Wild Charge. Xurkitree can choose between Thunder Shock and Spark.
Almost identical to the last table, but flipped. Zekrom is only better than Xurkitree in at most 1/4 of all scenarios, and that number gets even smaller with dodging or without relobbies.
- In the 1/4 cases where Zekrom is better, it’s usually either because of typing advantage (e.g. boss has Hydro Pump), or due to a charged move that almost OHKOs Xurkitree (e.g. Earth Power). Though there are a few neutral scenarios.
- However, Xurkitree still wins often despite typing disadvantages. For example, of the 40 boss movesets with Hydro Pump, Zekrom wins 24 and Xurkitree wins 16.
Utility: Which one is useful in more raids?
If you just want to build a team for every type, skip this section.
“But Fire types are useless!” Nah… That’s so 2018.
Anyway, we now know that not only does FFFF Reshiram get more of an upgrade than FB Zekrom, but it also stands out more within its own type.
But there’s another dimension: Which one is more useful in raids?
|Fire/Reshiram (25)||Electric/Zekrom (23)|
|Current T5||Celesteela, Cobalion, Genesect, Kartana, Regice, Registeel (6)||Celesteela, Kyogre, Lugia, Suicune, Tapu Fini, Tornadus, Yveltal (7)|
|Future T5||Solgaleo, Calyrex Ice Rider, Glastrier, Necrozma Dusk Mane, Arceus*4, Zacian Crown, Zamazenta Crown (7 ?)||Urshifu Rapid Strike, Galarian Articuno, Galarian Moltres, Galarian Zapdos, Keldeo, Arceus*2 (6)|
|Unlikely T5||Jirachi, Shaymin Land, Magearna (3)||Manaphy, Phione, Volcanion (3)|
|Current Mega||Abomasnow, Aggron, Beedrill, Glalie, Scizor, Venusaur (6)||Aerodactyl, Blastoise, Gyarados, Pidgeot, Slowbro (5)|
|Future Mega||Lucario, Mawile, Metagross (3)||Sharpedo, Primal Kyogre (2)|
This list contains all raid bosses that show up on Pokebattler, except Meltan and Melmetal. Pokebattler also includes (research) mythicals, so they go into the “Unlikely T5” section.
Bold non-italic are very relevant in PvP. Bold italic are very relevant in raids, but may also be relevant in PvP. (I didn’t highlight current megas.)
While both Fire and Electric are generally useful, neither are among the top-tier attacker types in utility. But if we were to choose one of them, then how?
TL;DR: Reshiram. While they’re good against a similar number of bosses (quantity), Reshiram is generally useful against the more relevant bosses (quality), and is also less replaceable by other attackers. (A caveat is that budget Fire are available more recently than budget Electric.)
- They’re really about the same. Difference of at most 1 in each category.
- Zekrom has an advantage in T5s. It beats Reshiram by 1 in current T5s, whereas in future T5s, Reshiram’s numbers are bloated by forms that may or may not be in raids (Calyrex, Necrozma, Zacian and Zamazenta).
- Though you can also argue the Galarian birds may never come to raids…
- Reshiram has an advantage in megas. Yes, Primal Kyogre will be popular and hard to beat, but Mega Lucario and Mega Metagross are both popular too.
Quality (Usefulness of the bosses themselves)
- For PvP: Reshiram beats Cobalion, Registeel, and maybe Zacian Crown. Zekrom beats Kyogre(?), Lugia and Tapu Fini.
- Leaning towards Reshiram.
- For raids: Reshiram beats Kartana, Mega Lucario, Mega Metagross, and maybe Zacian Crown. Zekrom beats Kyogre and its primal, and maybe Keldeo.
- Reshiram is the clear winner. Beating Kartana is huge, not to mention the two megas. While Zekrom does handle the (likely very challenging) Primal Kyogre raid, Kartana is better in that role, not to mention Kyogre’s own utility has dropped off from years ago.
Replaceability by other top-tier attackers
- Several raid bosses are double weak to Fire (Genesect, Kartana, Mega Abomasnow, Mega Scizor), which means you can’t use any other types. No such thing for Electric among T5s and megas.
- Otherwise, Reshiram is usually the best counter whenever it can be used, with the sole exception that it’s below Shadow Metagross against Ice.
- Zekrom, however, is now below Kartana against Water. Electric does maintain the edge as anti- (e.g. Lugia, Yveltal), but don’t forget Zekrom is also replaceable by the better Xurkitree.
- Both have worse but more common substitutes. Fire is often substitutable with Fighting, and Electric is substitutable with Grass, Rock and Ice.
Availability of budget attackers
- Budget Fire: Chandelure without its CD move just became readily accessible during December 2022 CD. Most people have a Fire team right now.
- Budget Electric: While both Electivire and Luxray were easily obtainable from CDs in the past, it has been more than a year since both. The most recent budget options are Magnemite spawns last season, and Grubbin spawns this season (northern hemisphere).
- A budget Electric team is probably harder to build than a budget Fire team right now. However, the High Voltage event this month may change things.
With all things considered, I think Reshiram is the more useful one.
Reshiram and Zekrom as dragon attackers
I’ll keep this one quick. For plots, refer to my December CD 2022 guide, specifically the 3rd set of plots.
Both are functional Dragon attackers, but Zekrom is better than Reshiram in this role. If you need more dragons, double move Zekrom.
Zekrom has a better moveset Dragon Breath/Outrage. This allows it to hang out with other below-Rayquaza dragons: Salamence, Garchomp, Palkia and Dialga. They’re all functionally equivalent and very close to Rayquaza.
Reshiram is stuck with Draco Meteor… And it stinks. It’s not bad by any means, but Dragonite is almost always better.
Note that we may get an Axew Community Day in June, based on precedents and the fact that Breaking Swipe was added to the game code recently. Therefore, I wouldn’t have Dragon attackers as part of the consideration for Zekrom and Reshiram.
Future attackers: Fire
Here’s one last dimension to consider. How future-proof are Fusion Flare Reshiram and Fusion Bolt Zekrom? What if, after spending heavily on raids, they get outclassed badly by something else?
For Reshiram, not really…
This shows a subset of future Fire attackers, specifically those that may get close to FFFF Reshiram. For a more complete list of future Fire attackers, refer to my Mega Blaziken analysis.
TL;DR: Unless other Pokémon start getting OP moves, nothing is likely to outclass Reshiram. The best chances come from shadows with new OP moves (e.g. Inferno Shadow Chandelure), Blacephalon with its own signature move, and Galarian Zen Darmanitan with a move not in Game Master.
Let’s use Fusion Flare regular Reshiram as a baseline.
What can go above FFFF Reshiram
- Shadow Chandelure with a hypothetical “semi-signature” move, Inferno, if it’s a Blast Burn clone or better.
- Not shown on the chart, but it would have been above Shadow BB Entei.
- This is the most threatening to FFFF Reshiram. But it’s too speculative, even though it can definite happen (a CD2 or something).
- Shadow Entei with a hypothetical “semi-signature” move, Eruption, if it’s a Blast Burn clone or better.
- You’re still only limited to one copy.
- Shadow Heatran with its signature move, Magma Storm, if it’s a Blast Burn clone or better.
- More likely to happen than Eruption Entei, but still limited to one copy.
- Galarian Darmanitan Zen, if it gets Fire Fang which is not in its current Game Master moveset.
- Its current GM has Tackle and Ice Fang, as well as Overheat. I think Niantic is probably limiting its potential as a Fire attacker, so IMO getting Fire Fang is unlikely.
- IF it does get FF/Overheat, its ASE is similar to Reshiram, but ASTTW and ASE Dodge are both firmly higher. Thus, I’m inclined to think it will indeed be better.
What can be on par with FFFF Reshiram
- Blacephalon with its signature move, Mind Blown, if it’s a Blast Burn clone or better.
- Basically a slightly worse FF/O Galarian Darmanitan Zen.
- Blacephalon with an even more OP signature move may go above FFFF Reshiram, but can’t say with certainty.
- Shadow Chandelure (with Overheat).
- Similar to “BB” Blacephalon above.
- Way more likely to happen, but takes time.
What’s slightly below FFFF Reshiram
- Blacephalon with its best regular moveset, Fire Spin/Overheat.
- Even though Blacephalon has 315 base attack to Reshiram’s 275, it’s no Xurkitree or Kartana. It’s just too glassy – even Gengar has 10% more bulk than it!
- Even in raw DPS, FS/Overheat Blacephalon is still “only” similar to FFFF Reshiram. Add in the bulk, and Reshiram is the clear winner.
- Shadow Blaziken.
- Almost a clone of FS/Overheat Blacephalon.
- It could have been on par with Overheat Reshiram, but oh well.
What’s unlikely to even touch FFFF Reshiram
- Chandelure, Volcarona, Heatran or Entei with each of their signature or semi-signature moves. They need to be V-Create clones… Nope!
Overall, Reshiram is a very future-proof investment. Blacephalon with its signature move is a concern, but it will likely take a long time with no guarantee in quality.
When we do get Shadow Reshiram with Fusion Flare… It’s even better than Mega Blaziken. I can’t see it ever getting outclassed.
Future attackers: Electric
Unlike the last section, this is the full set of future Electric attackers I have.
TL;DR: Charge Beam Zekrom will likely be outclassed by Thundurus Therian with its own signature move. But Zekrom ever gets Thunder Fang, it will be the best Electric until/unless Xurkitree gets Wild Charge (so still not 100% future proof).
First, let me bring your attention to Thunder Fang Zekrom.
Charge Beam, Zekrom’s current Electric fast move, is terrible. But Thunder Fang is very strong, arguably the best fast move in PvE. As a result, it will be a much, much, much more significant upgrade for Zekrom should that materialize. Remember Wild Charge to Fusion Bolt is only 2.3%? Charge Beam to Thunder Fang gets you another 11% upgrade!
With such a wide gap, Thunder Fang Zekrom (IF it happens) will immediately become the best Electric attacker again, now dethroning all shadows and megas. The only non-shadow that can still outclass it is…
What can go above Thunder Fang/FB ZekromXurkitree Electric
- Xurkitree IF it gets Wild Charge.
- May happen when Xurkitree gets its raid-exclusive move.
What can be on par with TF/FB Zekrom or slightly below, but better than Xurkitree and CB/FB Zekrom
- Mega Mewtwo Y with Thunderbolt.
- Ironically the best Electric mega, but megas shouldn’t affect Zekrom investments since you can only run one mega.
- Shadow Zapdos IF it gets Wild Charge.
- Yes, WC is a legal move for Zapdos, just not in Go yet. That will allow it to overtake Shadow Raikou, and let it run wild in PvP… If it happens.
- Mega Ampharos IF it gets Wild Charge.
- It actually has better stats than Mega Manectric, but stuck with the bad Zap Cannon. WC would make it slightly outclass Mega Manetric.
- Again, you can only run one mega.
What’s below Xurkitree but better than CB/FB Zekrom todayThundurus (Therian) Electric
- Thundurus Therian with Wild Charge, or its signature move Wildbolt Storm that’s at least as good.
- Basically, very likely to outclass CB/FB Zekrom. Even outclassing Discharge Xurkitree is possible, since Wild Charge is not a very high bar for signature moves.
What’s worse than CB/FB Zekrom
- Miraidon (Gen 9 legendary) and Iron Thorns (Gen 9, Paradox Tyranitar), if they get the best possible moves. They’re the best that Gen 9 has to offer among its many Electric types, but even then they’re still strictly worse than Fusion Bolt Zekrom. That’s just power creep for you.
- Everything else. Wild Charge Zapdos, Zeraora, Sandy Shocks (Paradox Magneton), Wild Charge Vikavolt, Iron Hands (Paradox Hariyama), Wild Charge Tapu Koko, Pawmot. From best to worst, but all far below Zekrom.
- Black Kyurem with Fusion Bolt is somewhat intriguing, at Raikou level.
Overall, Zekrom’s “future-proofness” depends too much on itself getting Thunder Fang. Without it, there’s no “future-proofness” at all, because Xurkitree is already better, and Thundurus-T probably will too. With Thunder Fang, Zekrom will be awesome, but still possible to get outclassed.
I should mention that Shadow Zekrom – even without Thunder Fang – is already better than Wild Charge Xurkitree. Shadow Zekrom with Thunder Fang? Go figure.
Summary & Verdict
Let’s do a final recap:
- Signature move upgrade: Improves Reshiram more than Zekrom.
- Ranking within type: Reshiram becomes the best non-mega. Zekrom still can’t overtake Xurkitree.
- Utility: Although Zekrom can be used against more T5 bosses, Reshiram beats the more useful bosses (& megas), and is also less replaceable by other counters. Budget Fire is currently more available than budget Electric, but that may change soon.
- Future-proofness: Reshiram will be future-proof for a long time, until Mind Blown Blacephalon or Inferno Shadow Chandelure. For Zekrom, it’s a gamble on whether it gets Thunder Fang – it’s very strong with TF, but can still be outclassed by Wild Charge Xurkitree. Also, Thundurus-T may outclass it in the near term.
One more factor I should mention for those who find it relevant: PvP utility in Master League. I’m no expect, but here’s what I gathered (feel free to correct me):
- Reshiram needs Fusion Flare in PvP, but is still a niche at best. See JRE’s PvP analysis.
- Zekrom already finds some use in ML (even without its signature move), more so than Reshiram. But while Fusion Bolt may be viable, the consensus is that it’s far from a clear-cut upgrade over Wild Charge. You may still choose to run non-legacy Zekrom, and it may even be preferred.
Putting all the pieces together – honestly, almost every point seems to be in favor of Reshiram.
The only reasons I can see that favor Zekrom are:
- If you’re a new player that missed Xurkitree and Kartana raids, and also don’t have a good budget Electric team. (If you have grass, rock and ice teams, they basically cover what Zekrom does.)
- If you care particularly about Primal Kyogre raids and don’t have enough Kartana.
- If you want to bet on the possibility that Zekrom will get Thunder Fang one day.
- If you’re more of a PvP Master League player and want Zekrom XLs.
- If you think Black and White Kyurem will require Reshiram and Zekrom candies, or require a copy of Reshiram and Zekrom. Note that Black Kyurem will be significantly more useful than White.
- If Zekrom is your favorite.
Otherwise… Reshiram all the way.
As for Elite TM considerations:
- Reshiram is the much better ETM candidate here. I still don’t think it’s worth 6 ETMs, as that’s too hefty of an investment, and while a 7% improvement is great, it’s not significant enough for that. But 1 ETM is a no brainer, and even 2-3 can be justifiable if you’re comfortable with it.
- Zekrom’s improvement is honestly too small for an ETM. To get the best use out of a Zekrom, yes, you would theoretically need one. But Wild Charge does almost as well, and ETMing may be bad for PvP. Overall, it will be more of a trophy, honestly.
When I wrote my first Reshiram and Zekrom analysis 13 months ago, I said “Zekrom is more useful now (and in PvP), while Reshiram has greater future value”. Now that 2022 is behind us, I think it’s time where Reshiram’s future value has come to play, whereas Zekrom’s “current” value back then has been more or less eroded. It does feel like nostalgia revisiting that article… Only that this time, I’m giving the complete opposite recommendations.
Articles coming up next
When my IRL schedule permits, I plan to analyze the following:
- Frenzy Plant Chesnaught: A minor article, but will be up before CD. Should be a quick one.
- Dragon: Probably when Mega Salamence comes, since its mega portrait is being hinted at in the datamines.
- Potential Larvitar CD Classic: A rehash of rock and dark/ghost analyses, but with more focus on Mega Tyranitar and/or how to improve Tyranitar’s moveset. Also comes with the long-overdue dark/ghost future attackers.
- Shadow Mewtwo and other shadow legendaries: It will still definitely come at some point, but no ETA. The writer me is hoping for no Rocket takeover in January…
- Fairy: Probably when Mega Gardevoir comes, if the speculations come true. (If I have more than enough free time, I may get to it when Tapu Koko is in raids, to see how it would look like if it gets Fairy Wind… But don’t bet on that happening.)
Appendix 1: Guide on how to read the charts & Technical details
Don’t know how to read the charts?
If you’re totally lost, just look at the first two plots, or just the first one if you don’t dodge in raids. These two plots are based on my Average Scaled Estimator (ASE) metric, which approximates in-raid performance using Pokebattler Estimator, best suited for realistic shortmanning (2-5 raiders).
The Average Scaled Time to Win (ASTTW) plots are similar, but best suited for medium or large lobbies (6+ raiders). This metric assumes no relobbying (i.e. reentering the raid after all Pokemon fainted).
The ER (aka DPS3*TDO scaled) and DPS plots are for experienced players who want to check these metrics.
In all six plots, the higher, the better. Example: Fusion Flare Reshiram is generally better than Overheat Reshiram, which is better than Chandelure, if they’re all at the same Pokémon level. But everything listed is perfectly usable and will let you pull your weight in raids.
You can also compare different attackers at different levels: points on the same horizontal line mean they’re equally as good. Example: Looking at the “ASE no dodging” plot, A Level 30 Fusion Flare Reshiram performs similarly to Level 35 Shadow Moltres and Level 50 Chandelure.
Reminder: All plots show average performance against many raid bosses. Against a specific raid boss, the rankings can be different.
- The first two plots are based on my in-house Average Scaled Estimator (ASE) metric, which estimates in-raid performance by automatically computing the average Pokebattler estimators against a variety of T5, Mega and T3 raid bosses, scaled so that the best attacker at L40 gets 1.0. The smaller, the better. For more details, refer to my Venusaur analysis in January 2022 and the comments.
- The middle two plots using Average Scaled Time to Win (ASTTW) follow the same methodology, but replaces Pokebattler estimator with TTW.
- “ASE Dodge” uses simulations with the “Dodge Specials” + “Realistic Dodging” options on Pokebattler. You can compare it to ASE without dodging to see how much dodging helps an attacker.
- For example, Mega Blaziken’s ASE at Level 40 drops from 1.017 without dodging to 1.008 with dodging, so dodging generally helps Mega Blaziken’s performance.
- However, Reshiram’s L40 ASE rises from 1.130 to 1.137 with dodging, so dodging may hurt Reshiram more than it helps.
Appendix 2: Past analyses on other types
- Bug: Bug Out
- Dark/Ghost: Shadow Force Giratina-O (no future attackers yet); Chandelure CD (with Shadow Chandelure)
- Dragon: December CD 2022 (no future attackers yet)
- Electric: This article; Bug Out
- Fighting: Keldeo & Mega Blaziken; September update (future megas); Galarian birds, Ultra Beasts & Sneasler
- Fire: This article; Gen 3 mega starters (with full future attackers)
- Flying: Staraptor CD
- Grass: Gen 3 mega starters; Kartana (more future attackers)
- Ground: December CD 2022 (no future attackers yet)
- Ice: Kyurem & Mega Glalie
- Psychic: September update/Psychic Spectacular
- Rock: December CD 2022 (with MB Tyrantrum); Gigalith CD
- Steel: Mega Aggron
- Water: Gen 3 mega starters
Missing types: Fairy (planned – Mega Gardevoir), Poison
If multiple articles are listed for the same type, they’re sorted from most to least recent. Not all articles are included: the ones here typically have sections not covered in the most recent articles.