Thunder Shock Zapdos analysis: just how good is Thunder Shock?

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Or in other words, how good is Raikou vs Zapdos?

Professor Willow’s Global Challenge continues, and during the last weekend, all goals were achieved. Thus, Zapdos Day was unlocked. On Saturday, July 21, Zapdos will be available in Raid Battles around the world for a limited three-hour period. During that time, all Zapdos caught will know the exclusive (fast) move Thunder Shock, and it is still unclear whether or not previously caught Zapdos will be able to get it by using a TM unfortunately using a Fast TM on a previously caught (and even powered up) Zapdos won’t work, so the only way of getting one with Thunder Shock is by raiding during the limited three-hour period, sadly.

The purpose of this article will be to discuss whether or not Thunder Shock/Thunderbolt Zapdos outperforms the current Charge Beam/Thunderbolt variant and if it does, how close it is to Thunder Shock/Wild Charge Raikou.

Thunder Shock vs. Charge Beam

First things first, let’s begin with the fast move. The Table below compares both moves and their main characteristics:

Move Base power Energy delta Move cooldown (s) DPS EPS
Thunder Shock Electric 5 8 0.6 8.33 13.33
Charge Beam Electric 8 15 1.1 7.27 13.64

As it can be seen, Thunder Shock’s base power and energy delta are lower, but its move cooldown is significantly lower. If we factorise those values with the duration of the move, we get the last two columns. DPS-wise, Thunder Shock is significantly better.

If we want to gain energy fast in order to fire off the charge move, EPS is the metric we’re interested in. Even then, the difference between both moves is almost negligible.

Furthermore, another important aspect (in fact, one of the most important ones) is how easy it is to dodge incoming attacks with a specific fast move. Charge Beam is too slow in comparison with Thunder Shock, and it makes it pretty difficult to comfortably dodge when using it. On the other hand, Thunder Shock is fast, smooth, with better DPS and a good energy gain rate. Thus, Thunder Shock is the clear winner.

(It’s also important to keep in mind that Fast move DPS is not a very relevant metric, as weave DPS also considers the charge move and it is a better representation of the whole moveset viability. However, for this specific short comparison, it’s good enough to at least describe how a specific fast move will perform in battle)

Raikou vs. Zapdos

Pokémon Stats Max CP Best FM Best CM Moveset cycle DPS*
Raikou Electric 241 210 180 3349 Thunder Shock Electric Wild Charge Electric 22.91
Zapdos ElectricFlying 253 188 180 3330 Thunder Shock* Electric Thunderbolt Electric 21.36

* Exclusive move

Now, time to compare charge moves too. Let’s be clear, Wild Charge is currently one of the best charge moves in the game, and in case you were wondering, it is the best Electric type one. Thunderbolt is not a bad charge move at all (Thunder is), but Wild Charge is still better.

If you take a look at Zapdos’ stats, you will see that it has a very respectable base attack stat of 253, higher than Raikou’s (241), the best Electric type Pokémon in the game as of now. However, Raikou has access to Wild Charge (and also Thunderbolt, btw), whereas Zapdos has only access to Thunderbolt, Thunder (a pretty bad charge move) and Zap Cannon (a bit too slow, good DPS but unreliable and not consistent enough). Now, you might be wondering if the addition of Thunder Shock to the fast move movepool of Zapdos will compensate the fact that it doesn’t have access to Wild Charge and make it rank #1 among electric type attackers. Well, some test simulations were performed on Pokebattler in order to check that.

* Moveset cycle DPS calculations JUST consider the weave DPS of a specific MOVESET (with STAB), without taking into account the Pokémon’s base attack stat. A potential “factorization” could be obtained by multiplying this value times the base attack stat of the specific Pokémon and dividing it by 2 times a representative base DEF stat (let’s say 100). By doing that, Raikou would end up with 27.60 and Zapdos with 27.02, which would represent a better “comparison” considering also their offensive potential and not their movesets exclusively. Still, Raikou would be a little bit better.

Kyogre Raid boss simulations

Zapdos and Raikou have been selected among all Electric type Pokémon to perform these simulations against Kyogre. The main simulation parameters can be seen in the Table below:

Raid Boss Tier Fast Move Charge Move Weather boost Friends boost Dodging strat
Kyogre Water 5 Waterfall Water Hydro Pump Water No No No dodging

And the charts below will show a comparison between TTW (the hypothetical amount of time required to take Kyogre down for the given parameters), TDO (Total Damage Output) and a comparison regarding the battle performance of the three Pokémon studied, which are TS/TB Zapdos, CB/TB Zapdos and TS/WC Raikou (the best electric type Pokémon in the game as of now, and thus the best reference).

The images above show the expected trend. Thunder Shock Zapdos is better than the Charge Beam variant, but still not as powerful as TS/WC Raikou, despite having a greater offensive potential. This goes to show, yet again, how important movesets are. None of the Zapdos variants are capable of “trio-ing” a WF/HP Kyogre without weather boost (unlike Raikou). Keep in mind that you still need a reasonable margin below 900 seconds to achieve it (you need to assume relobby, healing and lag time penalties).

Another important aspect that is sometimes forgotten is that Raikou has two additional advantages over Zapdos, apart from outperforming it in battle due to the fact that its best moveset is better than Zapdos’. Raikou is a pure Electric type Pokémon, and Zapdos is an Electric and Flying type Pokémon. Raikou only has one single weakness, which is to Ground type attacks, whereas Zapdos is weak to Rock and Ice type moves (but resists Ground type moves). As an example, against Kyogre (or Walrein/Lapras/Articuno), Raikou will be a MUCH better option because it won’t take super effective damage from potential incoming Blizzards, whereas Zapdos will suffer much more. Finally, Raikou also has greater bulk than Zapdos, as they share the same base stamina stat but Raikou has a greater base defense stat.

What if Zapdos ever gets access to Wild Charge?

Alright Kratos, that’s good and all that stuff but… What would happen if Zapdos, whose attack stat is over Raikou’s, ever gets access to the supreme charge move Wild Charge? Don’t worry, we also thought about that, and ran some simulations on Pokebattler accordingly. But how about Thunder Shock and Thunderbolt Raikou? Well, GO Hub also thought about that and included it in the mix. The graphs below show a comparison of how those two additions would perform in battle (same raid parameters).

IMPORTANT: Remember that Thunder Shock/Wild Charge Zapdos is NOT obtainable in game, this is just a hypothetical situation.

Several things can be said from the results obtained. Thunder Shock/Wild Charge Zapdos would outperform Raikou in this specific matchup at the beginning of the battle. Then, as the battle goes on, Raikou’s bulk comes in handy and it still remains as the best option.

There are some segments in the graph where Zapdos cannot fire off charge moves consistently, and the reason behind that is that either a Hydro Pump or a constant Waterfall spam has defeated Zapdos before it was able to fire off a Wild Charge. Raikou, however, with greater bulk, is usually more consistent and in the long run performs better, as its TDO shows. On a pure DPS battle in equal conditions with no deaths, Zapdos would win due to the fact that it has a higher attack stat, but as the battle goes on, Raikou’s bulk makes it stand out, while still dealing respectable DPS. In fact, TS/WC Zapdos’ deaths to win would be ~42 whereas TS/WC Raikou’s are ~38. And how about CB/WC? That’d probably reduce the graph’s visibility. You saw how TS/TB Zapdos compared to CB/TB, imagine an almost equivalent scenario between TS/WC and CB/WC.


Here comes the TL;DR summary of this article:

  • Thunder Shock Zapdos is a direct upgrade from the current Charge Beam variant. Thunder Shock is smoother, faster and it overall offers a better battle performance than Charge Beam. Furthermore, it lets you dodge more comfortably, which will probably make you last longer in battles.
  • Raikou is still better due to several reasons. Despite having a slightly lower attack stat, its best moveset is just better than Zapdos’. Furthermore, it has greater bulk and a better typing with less relevant weaknesses.
  • It is still unclear whether or not we will be able to use TMs on previously caught Zapdos in order to make them learn Thunder Shock as a fast move, but we sincerely hope soUnfortunately, using a Fast TM on a previously caught (and even powered up) Zapdos won’t work, so the only way of getting one with Thunder Shock is by raiding during the limited three-hour period. This questionable decision is obviously controversial, as players who spent plenty of stardust and rare candies on a previously caught Zapdos will now have an obsolete variant. Here’s an article related to that topic, covering the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and exclusiveness in this game. If the community wants this situation to change in the future (for example, with a potential exclusive Precipice Blades Groudon release who would have a ~24% greater weave DPS, rendering your previously caught Groudon almost useless), we can try to be vocal about this issue and reach out to Niantic, either via their contact forms or social media channels.
  • Thunder Shock Zapdos is still a very good Pokémon, despite being slightly worse than Thunder Shock/Wild Charge Raikou (the best electric type Pokémon as of now). If you haven’t caught or powered up any Zapdos and you catch a good IV one on Zapdos Day, it will probably be a safe investment you won’t regret, unless you already have an army of level 40 Raikou ready to battle.
  • Wild Charge as an exclusive move for Zapdos could’ve been an awesome addition to its movepool, as it would’ve slightly otuperformed Raikou on a pure DPS fight scenario. However, that’d be a bit unrealistic as deaths and bulk also play a key role and as seen in the graphs, TS/WC Raikou would still dominate in the long run.

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Pokémon fan since 2000. Played every single game without exception. I'm an engineer, a tech lover and also a big sports fan. Science is my religion :)

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