The Pokemon GO Johto Tour ticketed Special Research unlocks a new Masterwork Research line, from which players will obtain both Apex Shadow Lugia and Apex Shadow Ho-Oh. These Apex Shadow Pokemon are only cosmetically different from normal Shadow Pokemon, but will have exclusive access to improved versions of their signature Charge Moves. They can also be purified into Apex Purified Ho-Oh and Apex Purified Lugia, gaining exclusive access to even more powerful iterations of their signature attacks.
The article below details just how powerful these Apex Pokemon are and just how good these improved attacks are in Pokemon GO. The bonuses provided by the improved special moves only affect Raids and Gyms, and not Trainer Battles, so the focus will be on their utility in Raid content.
Apex Shadow Ho-Oh and Apex Shadow Lugia have identical stats to their normal Shadow counterparts. The only changes are cosmetic differences in their Shadow aura and access to improved “+” versions of their signature attacks. When Purified, they become Apex Purified Pokemon with access to further improved “++” versions of their signature attacks. The stat changes the “+” and “++” moves only influence Raids and Gyms, and have no unique bonuses in Trainer Battles.
Sacred Fire has 120 power, Sacred Fire+ has 135 power, and Sacred Fire++ has 155 power, all for 100 energy. Aeroblast has 180 power, Aeroblast+ has 200 power, and Aeroblast++ has 225 power, also all for 100 energy. The single “+” moves are exclusive to their respective Apex Shadow Pokemon and the double “++” moves are exclusive to their respective Apex Purified Pokemon.
The inferred intent behind the “++” moves being exclusive to the Apex Purified Pokemon would be to put them on a similar competitive level as their Apex Shadow counterparts in Raids. However, as you’ll see in the next section, the “++” moves are nowhere near powerful enough to keep up with the Shadow Bonus.
Apex Shadow Ho-Oh vs Apex Purified Ho-Oh
Despite having 20 higher power, Apex Purified Ho-Oh with Sacred Fire++ not only pales in comparison to Apex Shadow Ho-Oh with Sacred Fire+, but it even falls behind regular Shadow Ho-Oh with Fire Blast. The reason for this is that Shadow Pokemon have a x1.2 buff to all of their attacks. This suggests that Sacred Fire+’s power is effectively 162 rather than 135, because it’s being used by a Shadow Pokemon. Not only is 162 greater than Sacred Fire++’s 155 power, but all of Shadow Ho-Oh’s Fast Moves are being boosted as well. Between both the Fast Moves and Charge Moves, Apex Purified Ho-Oh’s Sacred Fire++ would require roughly 180 power to put it more on the level of Apex Shadow Ho-Oh in Raids. This suggests that it would be a mistake to Purify Apex Shadow Ho-Oh as you’d make it significantly weaker for Raids with almost no benefit, despite Sacred Fire++ appearing as a more powerful attack.
Just to drive the message home: Don’t Purify Apex Shadow Ho-Oh.
You may have noticed on the chart above that Shadow Ho-Oh’s Brave Bird is somehow more powerful than Apex Shadow Ho-Oh’s Sacred Fire+, despite having the same energy cost and 5 lower base power. This is due to Sacred Fire (and all suffixed iterations) having a 0.2s later activation time and 0.6s longer animation time/move cooldown. In short, Brave Bird enables Ho-Oh to use more Incinerates and is less likely to be KO’d before its Charge Move damage registers, making it more consistent against enemies that are equally vulnerable to both Fire and Flying-type attacks. Apex Purified Ho-Oh’s Sacred Fire++ doesn’t have this problem due to the higher power, but as previously stated, Apex Purified Ho-Oh is weaker than normal Shadow Ho-Oh with Fire Blast.
Apex Shadow Ho-Oh in the Meta
Sacred Fire+ enables Apex Shadow Ho-Oh to pull ahead of Reshiram in terms of DPS (Damage Per Second) and DPS^3*TDO (a useful metric for a Pokemon’s overall Raid utility, favoring the Raid Timer over survivability). While this is a great victory for Apex Shadow Ho-Oh, Shadow Entei is still the best overall Fire-type Raid Attacker and the majority of Shadow Fire-type Pokemon have greater DPS than Apex Shadow Ho-Oh. This doesn’t mean Apex Shadow Ho-Oh is bad, but that it isn’t a significant “game changer” for Raids.
Despite being a very expensive, very OK Raid Attacker, Apex Shadow Ho-Oh is more useful in Master League PvP than every other Fire-type Pokemon (sans Reshiram and non-Shadow Ho-Oh). Therefore, Apex Shadow Ho-Oh is a very well rounded Stardust investment should you want to power one up. For more information on Apex Shadow Ho-Oh in the Master League Meta, we have an article coming out soon which covers Sacred Fire Ho-Oh (both Shadow and normal).
As for Apex Purified Ho-Oh in Raids, it’s not 100% terrible but it is significantly worse than Apex Shadow Ho-Oh. Don’t bother Purifying it.
Apex Shadow Lugia vs Apex Purified Lugia
Apex Purified Lugia’s Aeroblast++ has the same issue as Apex Purified Ho-Oh’s Sacred Fire++- the increase in power doesn’t account for the x1.2 Shadow Bonus Shadow Lugia has to both its Fast and Charge Moves. As a result, Apex Shadow Lugia is always better than Apex Purified Lugia. You really shouldn’t Purify Apex Shadow Lugia
unless you want to cure it of its suffering, open its heart, and teach it to love again.
Just to drive the message home: Don’t Purify Apex Shadow Lugia.
Apex Shadow Lugia in the Meta
The chart above compares Lugia to other Raid Attackers against a Fighting-type opponent. Areoblast+ enables Apex Shadow Lugia to have significantly more DPS, while still maintaining its status as a high TDO “anchor.” (Total Damage Output, a more useful metric for tankiness). Lugia’s DPS^3*TDO still pales in comparison to both Psystrike Mewtwo and Psystrike Shadow Mewtwo, suggesting they’re still higher value for Psychic-type weak Raid Bosses. That said, Apex Shadow Lugia’s unique resistance profile could further bolster its utility as an “anchor” (a very tanky Pokemon used to help prevent you from relobbying, which is not only a hassle but a DPS drop).
This next chart compares Apex Shadow Lugia to other Pokemon against a Flying-type weak (in this case, Grass-type) opponent in Windy weather. While it is ideal for both your Fast Move and Charge Move to be effective against a Raid Boss, Psychic and Flying-type sharing the same Weather Bonus allows Extrasensory to close the gap a bit. Here, Apex Shadow Lugia is once again a high TDO “anchor” type option that fails to hold a candle to the top most option (Shadow Moltres). Apex Shadow Lugia still has unique resistances compared to Shadow Moltres and Shadow Honchkrow, so it may still see some optimal usage as an “anchor.”
Overall, Apex Shadow Lugia appears to be less useful for Raids than Apex Shadow Ho-Oh is. That said, Apex Shadow Lugia is a huge step up from normal Lugia and Apex Purified Lugia. The main perk to powering up Apex Shadow Lugia for Raids is showing off that you have it and its cross-utility in Master League PvP.
Apex Shadow Ho-Oh and Apex Shadow Lugia will be making an interesting splash in Raids, but it doesn’t appear that they’ll be taking over the meta in any way. It’s interesting that Pokemon GO is trying to close the gap in power between Shadow and Purified Pokemon by giving the Apex Purified Pokemon further improved “++” versions of their signature moves. As it stands though, the improved power of “++” fails to meet the raw strength of the Shadow Bonus.