Hey 6P! I’m Zarco (at least on the forums I am). My real name is Zach Davis, but it’s pretty much irrelevant since I really only play Pokémon TCG Online (no leagues/tourneys nearby, not enough money/time to invest in the game), but you can find me as Zarco on PlayTCG or as DuggyHD on PTCGO (a shared account with my friend) fairly often.
I consider myself an average player, or maybe slightly above, based on my competitive background in other games (I play the video games competitively as well), so I think I’m justified writing an article, even though you’re probably already scoffing at the idea of taking advice from someone who doesn’t actually play the TCG. Though, I guess the article will speak for itself!
Well, enough with things you don’t care about and excess parentheses. On to the article!
RayEels in the BLW-PLS Format
As you might be able to divine from the title, this article is about RayEels in the Plasma Storm format. RayEels is a deck I discovered late in the Boundaries format as being really quite good, having even to above-average matchups against every single deck besides Landorus decks, which were seeing less and less play (or being seen in lower counts) with the rise of Keldeo/Blastoise as BDIF.
It’s also a very fun, exciting, and dynamic deck to play, which gives, to me at least, reason to play it and try to perfect it. Games with RayEels are always close, but one or two strong plays can turn the game around and lead you to victory.
So, with Plasma Storm rolling in, I looked to see what it offered the RayEels. Honestly, not much at all in the way of new cards. However, when you look at how the metagame will likely evolve in the new format, I think RayEels has a very good chance of competing with top decks.
With some changes in the list from last format, it has the tools to go toe-to-toe with most everything I expect to see played from Plasma Storm.
Here’s a rough skeleton to go by, before I get to my list:
Pokémon – 13
4 Tynamo NVI 38
Trainers – 28
Energy – 13
5 Fire/Prism (Split)
Open Slots – 6
2 Rayquaza EX is possible, but the deck NEEDS to pull off successive Dragon Bursts and relies on its ability to KO EXs. Dropping to 2 takes the focus away from your giant dragon/death machine, and we wouldn’t want to do that, would we?
Emolga is utterly amazing in here as a starter and grants free retreat for when your Skyarrow is gone/not in play yet. It buffers you against Landy EX, which is a huge help. A turn one CFF is not only good for protecting your Tynamos, but sets the stage for the entire game.
Keldeo EX is really not even a tech anymore. It frees up a space in the list, as with it you really only need to play 2 Switch, and it’s your best out to Lasers that will inevitably be shot around at you. It gives you an out to Dragon Bursting twice with the same Rayquaza back-to-back. In a sticky situation it 2HKOs Landy (or OHKOs with 2 Prisms, should you choose to play them)
Trainers + Energy
The Supporter and Energy lines are standard.
You need 2 SAB, at least, to retreat Ray and Tynamos.
The Trainer line is pretty normal too. You have a decent choice of ACE SPEC here; Dowsing is a good choice for late game, but I have to think that Computer Search is better for early consistency and early Lightning discards. This deck can go with just 3 Catcher, though 4 is recommended for consistency.
You can vary up the Pokémon search, but you should have at least 4 “Discard 2”-type Items to get energy flowing, and this Level/Ultra split I’ve found to be very consistent and reliable. A lot of times the Ultra Ball is more for discarding than it is for the Pokémon search, given your high counts of necessary cards and Emolga to fill the bench.
You can also use Ultra Ball simply to thin your hand before a Juniper or discard extra SAB, Lightning Energies, etc. you don’t need, which helps your draws later on, thins your hand, and protects against N.
Now, I don’t think I have to go over every tech, every card good to play in Eels, and every card that goes with Big Basics here. You’ve all seen the standard stuff before, and neither you nor I want to trudge through a couple pages of that same old list. Basically, you have a lot of options for those 6 spots, and what you choose to use will be your decision.
Pokémon – 15
4 Tynamo NVI
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
So, my list is the skeleton with the following changes:
+1 Emolga, +1 Energy Search, +1 Energy Switch, +1 Benchtini, +1 SAB, +1 Catcher, Fire>Prisms, and 1 Colress, 2 Bianca, and 1 Skyla for my 4 “Other Supporters.” These are some odd choices, yeah, but just give me a minute to explain.
This list is all about the T1 Emolga. 3 SAB, 2 Emolga, 6 cards that can pull Emolga from the deck, and 2 Switch gives you a very good chance of it. When you get a bench filled early, it gives you the ability to go off a bit early, compensate for KO’d Eels, and even thin your deck. Bascially, nothing else sets the stage so strongly for a game of Dragon Bursting and big reach KOs than getting more Tynamos ready to evolve. Filling your bench is also great for Victini, but I’ll get to that later.
The 3rd SAB is more than just for the T1 consistency, though. I’ve noticed this deck can’t afford to Skyla for Stadiums, and can rarely actually afford to Skyla at all. It needs to draw a lot of cards, and Skyla is on whole a mediocre or bad Supporter in here. I play one because it is a good card for clutch situations, and I think 1 is the right count, but with 2 it gets in the way more than it actually helps me.
So, long story short, SAB is hard to draw into now, meaning I play more to get it out. It’s also huge in winning stadium wars with Blastoise and its Beaches and against Virbank decks like Darkrai/Sableye and White Guys. The 3rd count allows me to play mine first, and then still win the stadium war almost all the time. It helps immensely to be able to minimize the threat of Lasers consistently throughout the game.
With the ability to fill my bench efficiently, it actually makes sense to play a 3rd Colress over a 3rd N sometimes. It basically boils down to the fact that, if the deck is doing what it’s supposed to, N becomes your least valuable Supporter after taking a single knockout, whereas Colress becomes strong after the second or third turn.
Colress is very powerful mid-late game, and lets you pull off big plays during that time. This deck is a mid to late-game deck, and once you survive the opening turns Colress can pull you through to the end.
I think that the traditional 4 N/2 Colress definitely works, but I prefer the 3/3 split because Colress becomes really strong in the endgame, while N becomes a crappy draw basically as soon as you start taking prizes. This helps explain my Supporter line (and Bianca is pretty standard for late-game Ns and used along discarding cards).
I picked all Fire over a mix with Prisms for 3 reasons:
- It’s compatible with Energy Search, which is basically both a Fire and a Lightning at once, and can be Skyla’d for in dire circumstances.
- It’s compatible with Super Rod, which is important for combating Hammers and getting fires continually recycled into the deck.
- It’s not weak to anti-Special Energy measures like Enhanced Hammer, Cobalion EX, and a few others that will probably see play with the advent of Plasma/Lugia EX, Black Kyurem EX, Klinklang, and a bunch of other special energy-reliant cards.
All of this outweighs the possible benefit of Keldeo getting 2 Prisms and KOing Landy, which is rare enough to not matter.
I like the 4 Catcher in there, as Catcher does – and always will – win games. This deck CAN go to 3, especially if you run Raikou, but even Raikou appreciates catcher.
Computer Search is better in here in my opinion, since it acts as sort of an “Ultra Ball Plus” early game, discarding your lightnings regardless of what’s in your discard pile already, and grabbing what you need to set up (including supporters).
Dowsing’s an option, but it takes away from this deck’s already-lacking early game enough to discourage me. Scramble Switch is interesting, but I don’t think it has a place in here (I could definitely be proven wrong, though).
Now, none of these techs are really that odd. Maybe different than you might think to do it, but nothing too unusual. I know you’ve been waiting to hear about my 2 more interesting card choices here.
Victini is a really overlooked card in my opinion. This deck finds it all too easy to fill the bench with its use of Emolga, meaning V-Create is never hard to use. It notably is used in the Klinklang matchup, which it makes basically an autowin. It can get going T2 without too much hassle and OHKO Cobalion/EX, Registeel EX, and both Klinklangs. Just one of these can get rid of their Plasmaklang and open their field up to a barrage of Dragon Bursts.
More importantly, though, you can use this to wipe the energy off of the Klinklang players’ field early on. They either won’t be able to attack the next turn, or will have to settle for a Righteous Edge for 30. You can not only take 2 of these as you start KOing their whole field, but it won’t even disrupt your energy.
If your opponent does manage to chain Righteous Edges to damage your Victini, you’ll take enough prizes on them that they have no ability to come back. The typical Klinklang deck basically falls apart once Victini starts attacking, and they have to have very good luck and give up several prizes to even begin to stabilize their field.
Rayquaza and Zekrom don’t have the same crippling ability as Victini in this matchup, have much clunkier retreats (while Victini conveniently has free retreat under Skyarrow), cost more energy, and really don’t need to be played as much as they did pre-Plasma. They are still decent to counter Black Kyurem EX (the new one) and Lugia EX/Tornadus EX, respectively, but to be fair Rayquaza EX can deal with those just fine.
Victini’s also decent enough against Sigilyph, if that is even played after the advent of Plasmaklang, though it does need a Tool Scrapper to KO Eviolited Sigilyph. Just keep the energy off their board and you should be fine. Once they get Mewtwo EX out to counter, Dragon Burst it for 2 free prizes and super rod Victini back. It’s not elegant, but it’ll pull you through if you ever do have to go up against Sigilyph.
And, Energy Switch. With the focus on Emolga in this deck, you’ll likely be left with an energy on it throughout the game. Or maybe you had to Thunder Wave turn one, and still have an energy on your Tynamo/Eel. Energy switch becomes a basically free attachment at some point by moving an energy off of a starter and onto your attacker. This is a once-a-game move that will help you in most games, and as such Energy Switch is a perfect 1-of in here.
Or consider this: you just Dragon Bursted last turn with your active Ray. You have no energy on the bench, and a lightning in hand, and you only have access to two Eels. You need to switch, attach, Dynamotor twice, and retreat to pull off the 180 damage Dragon Burst. But…. No Switch. What if you get an Energy Switch instead? Just move the fire to the bench, and you can double Dyna/attach, then retreat and take the KO that way.
It’s also useful for retreating an Eel if you need to; Energy Switch + attach gives you both energy to retreat with. Or maybe you need to Dynamotor to the active, to give Ray the last energy it needs or to retreat Keldeo. Energy Switch has you covered.
All in all, a single Energy Switch is, I think, the glue of my list. It’s useful in so many circumstances as a “free attachment” or helping out with energy logistics, and that makes it incredibly good in here.
I haven’t tested a second one, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Think of it like an ACE SPEC when in the game, though; you only get the one, and you can’t guarantee that it’ll be used in a certain way, but it WILL be useful once in nearly every game you play.
This list has been working very well for me. It seems consistent enough to set up most games, has specific advantages in a couple of matchups, and can go toe-to-toe with basically every deck seeing play right now if you get set up ok.
Blastoise/Keldeo/Black Kyurem – Favorable to Highly Favorable
You can take OHKOs on their EXs really easily, and they struggle to keep up with that. Neither is fast enough to get a significant advantage over the other, and neither really has the ability to wipe out the other’s acceleration, but RayEels simply does more damage more efficiently.
Sableye/Darkrai – Unfavorable to Even
Darkrai has a field day spreading against Eels, it’s true. But if you can hold out long enough against them, you should be able to swing in and start demolishing their field. They generally don’t have much field stability, so an OHKO (alongside an N) will set them back enough for you to turn the matchup in your favor. A good start here lets you take the game, but a bad one will cause you to struggle to stay above water.
Keldeo EX and Skyarrow are really useful against HTL and Virbank. You may want to consider Max Potion or Potion to keep Eels safe from being sniped, and to keep your Rayquazas out of reach of their superpowered Night Spears (bench damage + Dark Claw + HTL + Virbank = 170! Yeesh!).
Klinklang Variants – Unfavorable to Highly Favorable (if you play Benchtini)
Yeah, Benchtini wrecks them. I already commented a lot about this matchup, but basically, if you expect to see this deck, playing Victini will make a great matchup out of a bad one. A turn 2 V-create can easily run through everything they have before they get enough energy to pose a threat back to you, and you can take out their Klinklangs and Cobalion EXs before you run into problems.
Hydreigon – Favorable
As was previously seen in the BLW-DRX format, RayEels has the tools to win this matchup. You can easily OHKO their Hydras and will usually get going faster than they begin to Night Spear your Eels, so hopefully you’ll take the lead here. You can always take OHKOs on their Darkrais, so you never have to fear Max Potion and tanking shenanigans.
The only way you can come into trouble is if they start Night Spearing and disrupt your setup, but provided you get set up quickly enough, it’s not too much of a struggle to remove the energy from their field.
White Guys (Colorless/Fighting/Mewtwo stuff) – Unfavorable to Even
If they focus on Landy, it’s going to be tough to get going, and even if they don’t, early Mewtwo and Tornadus can knock out Eels. However, if you get Emolga doing its job and set up, they have a field of prizes for you to take. You can also hit them where their energy is, which will slow them down a lot without acceleration.
One notable weapon you have in this matchup is Rayquaza EX’s lack of easy weakness (either in the literal or strategic sense); they’ll often be left doing low amounts of damage to the active if they can’t grab a Catcher-KO, so you can take a hit or two before being knocked out. If you’re taking OHKOs, this gives you a very favorable prize trade.
Lugia EX/Plasma Decks – Even
I honestly haven’t tested this one too much, but from what I see it really depends on what trend the Plasma decks of the metagame will take. If they get Lugia EX going quickly, you’ll have to give up 2 prizes per Eel or whatever else they Catcher up. However, an EX that takes a lot of energy to repower is a prime target for Rayquaza EX.
Snorlax PLS is a major threat since it can do 180, takes a 3-energy Dragon Burst to knock it out, blocks retreat, and isn’t even an EX. But, it does take 5 energy, so you can try to take energies off the board, and you can use Thunder Wave or Emolga’s other attack to put it in range for a Dragon Burst for 120.
Ho-Oh – Favorable
Landorus and Mewtwo can cause trouble in the early game, but you’ll have a more consistent start than them on average. You have access to a Sigilyph counter and can otherwise decimate their EX attackers with Ray EX.
It obviously depends on what attackers they run, but generally you have enough firepower to work past their main attackers in this matchup and then start taking out Ho-Ohs and the like.
Empoleon, Garchomp, etc. – Unfavorable to Even
Non-EXs are annoying and get in the way of this deck’s OHKO power. However, a fast attacker will get in the way of them setting up, so you can end up being OK. Consistency is great. Also, Thundurus and Rayquaza DRV are techs that will help win you these matchups, respectively.
Mewtwo/Eels – Even
Their Mewtwos aren’t a huge threat to your main attacker, as Ray OHKOs them while taking little damage back, but Raikou is very strong against your Eels. A T1 Mewtwo can also cause problems for you by taking out a Tynamo, but you should be able to manage. Deal with Raikou first, and then take down their Mewtwos.
In short, RayEels flourishes in matchups that let it get set up, because once it gets set up, Rayquaza’s OHKO power is a very strong comeback engine. It’s hard to play the deck in a way that allows you to consistently take the big KOs, but with a little ingenuity and the right list, it’s very possible. It has a lot to live up to in the coming format, but I think that it has the power to pull it off.