It seems like only yesterday when we bid farewell to one of the most stagnant metagames in PTCG history. Memories of the incredible dominance of LuxChomp and SableDonk are still fresh for whoever played in that era.
It seems, however, that we are about to go down nostalgia lane again.
Plasma Freeze brings about a whole slew of Plasma Pokémon into the lineup as well as the one card that makes the whole thing tick: Team Plasma Ball. Whether this set will go off with a bang like the SP era or a slow development like Team Magma/Team Aqua remains to be seen, but the speed of the format will undoubtedly be as fast, if not faster, than during the SP era.
My own opinion about this set is rather negative. First, this set shifts the metagame into a drag race where speed and power is everything. Second, with the exception of only a few Pokémon, only the Pokémon-EX and Trainers are of any use, partly because of how fast the metagame has become. There is simply no space for evolution decks to evolve and grow, and by extension, makes the game more cutthroat and less exciting.
As per usual, I will begin by evaluating the Pokémon-EX.
I wrote off this card back when the first scans were revealed. Being a Fire type EX has no benefits whatsoever in the current format, as Grass types are almost never played while Metal types are protected by Klinklang PLS.
The only good use for it, as far as I can tell, is as a soft counter against Hypnotoxic Laser with Heat Boiler, and even then it’s not a very good one.
This was another card I wrote off initially because of one sole reason: it cannot, for some strange unfathomable reason, increase the damage for its own attack using its own Power Connect Ability. In other words, as an attacker, Deoxys EX was way below par, especially since low-energy attackers are getting very common.
The only reason it is commanding such a high value is its combination with other Plasma Pokémon which, when combined with the HypnoBank combo, jacks up damage to levels that are too darn high, enough to make me want to create a meme picture of a certain black bearded man. One of the early uses of Deoxys EX was to allow Lugia EX to unleash its full potential to be the monster it was.
Because Deoxys EX is seldom used an as attacker, players tend to overlook its potential when dealing with certain threats. For example, Deoxys EX deals a decent 100 damage to Darkrai EX for cheap, plus it can be powered up in a single turn thanks to Colress Machine, thus able to take advantage of Max Potion spam. A fully powered Kyurem PLF can be OHKO’d with a Hypnotoxic Laser without the need of Virbank, and Snorlax PLS without either card.
Welcome to the end of Evolution.
Thundurus Noise was written off as a gimmick and thus so was Thundurus EX initially. Then players started looking at Raiden Knuckle as a way of powering up Lugia EX’s Plasma Gale while softening up the opponent. Then players started to realize that Raiden Knuckle does a bucketload of damage by itself with a bench full of Deoxys EX, and that Team Plasma Ball gave the deck that T1 setup very, very easily.
And that, boys and girls, is how Evolution decks finally died off (well, almost). The previous introduction of the HypnoBank already endangered anything 60 HP and below; indeed, as long as you can search out two Deoxys EX, you won’t even need the Stadium.
The green genie grew into a big radioactive chicken.
Jokes aside, the true value of Tornadus EX PLF may only be seen with the release of Porygon Z in the next set. For now, pairing it with Thundurus EX is the best way to ensure that Chicken Little can get enough nutrition – I mean Plasma Energy loaded to OHKO the opponents. Current Plasma Basic decks have already proven that getting two Colress Machine is not very hard, and with a minimum of three Plasma Energy, HypnoBank or Deoxys EX completes the combo.
In fact, seeing as how easy it is to get at least two Deoxys EX and Virbank City Gym into play early game, you only really need two Plasma Energy and Hypnotoxic Laser to deal 170 damage, the same as Lugia EX.
The only problem with Tornadus EX as an attacker is how it cannot deal damage without loading up on a ton of energy.
One good thing going for the new Tornadus EX is that it cannot be donked by its blue brother even with a full set of alien warriors and HypnoBank supporting it, unlike its predecessor (that combo does 170 damage, by the way). The bad news is Deoxys EX can OHKO a fully charged Tornadus EX with HypnoBank, assuming it has its own Plasma Energy.
There’s also the fact that Tornadus EX PLF makes an excellent starter, considering how Windfall basically turns it into a Cleffa EX on steroids. Even if you whiff the T1 setup, Windfall will surely make sure you get the T2 KO.
Maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but I love this Latias, not to mention that pink background is HAWT. It’s main draw is how it, like Sigilyph, can be a complete annoyance to your deck. Of the top of my head, the Pokémon Latias EX can potentially stop are:
- Darkrai EX
- Lugia EX
- Deoxys EX
- Keldeo EX
- Ho-Oh EX
- Mew EX
- Ninetales DRX
- Sigilyph DRX
- Bouffalant DRX
- Klinklang BLW/PLS
- Empoleon DEX
- Snorlax PLS
Now that’s a long list. The only problem is its woefully low HP and high attack cost, although that can be somewhat circumvented by having Thundurus EX as a charger with Team Plasma Badge. In fact, against Darkrai variants and anything utilising Bouffalant DRX, Latias EX might just be the perfect counter, plus it even gets around Safeguard and Plasma Steel. Team Plasma Badge can make up for Latias EX’s lack of damage output when used in Plasma Basics.
I thought Celebi EX was the very worst they could come up with. I guess I was wrong.
Yes, they can simply use a Supporter to fish it out, but that simply means having to rely on lady luck, who is a fickle mistress indeed. The effect is even greater in the late game when the majority of their Supporters have been spent.
I believe this to be the beginning of a change of pace into a search-based engine from the usual draw-based engine we are used to the past year. Shadow Triad has many functions that make it rather useful. It can be used as a Dowsing Machine to reuse Colress Machine for that turbo setup. It can be used as a pseudo Revive to fish out that last Deoxys EX to reach the magic number. Or it can be used as an Energy Retrieval to power up Lugia EX for that final Prize.
Whether Shadow Triad will be popular will remain to be seen. It may not be as good as Skyla, but then again even Dowsing Machine is now more popular than Computer Search. Then again, because of the recovery nature of the card, it would be wrong to consider Shadow Triad as part of your search engine and thus should not be included into your engine’s Supporter count.
I don’t know of many decks that can use Rock Guard well, if at all. Judging by the not-so-widespread use of Rocky Helmet, this may be another dud to join the ranks of Crystal Wall and Crystal Edge. The cards that can use this generally prefer other Tool cards, like Gothitelle EPO 47 and Zebstrika NXD.
Now this is an interesting Tool card. It allows the creation of the 7th Prize predicament without having to sacrifice a non-EX Pokémon, or it allows a deck based around non-EX Pokémon to survive a single turn longer. Esa’s Underground article gave us a great way of abusing Life Dew, one which I intend on abusing even further with my own Sablelock deck featured in my last article.
PokeBeachThere’s nothing quite like a personal Stadium card to assert a certain deck’s dominance in a metagame. But if Galactic HQ was of any hint, Frozen City may not be very popular precisely because the bulk of the meta might be centered around Plasma Pokémon.
It’s the new Switch, boys and girls.
Well, not really, but it sure gives Keldeo EX incredible flexibility at the cost of a single bench slot. It is worth noting, however, that Float Stone still takes up your one-retreat-per-turn, and that it can easily be discarded by Tool Scrapper, so it is highly advisable to be packing a couple of Switch, even if you run heavy counts of Float Stone.
Team Plasma Ball
There’s not much to say about this card; its use is obvious.
Team Plasma Badge
I’m kinda on the fence about this card, although for now I like it more than I dislike it. It allows the massive abuse of Colress Machine as a universal accelerator, particularly for types that do not have acceleration. For example, you can actually attempt a Snorlax/Eelektrik deck to deal that constant KOs, or pull out a surprise Terrakion NVI Retaliate. Heck, Regigigas EX might actually have a chance to shine.
Team Plasma Badge also allows further abuse of Deoxys EX as a free PlusPower. One notable use I can think of is to allow Landorus EX to OHKO both Darkrai EX and Thundurus EX without any prior sniping or poison shenanigans. And thanks to Colress Machine, a T2 Land’s Judgement is a very real threat.
In fact I can envision Team Plasma Badge as a 4-of in current Big Basics to both take advantage of the acceleration and Power Connect. Bouffalant DRX can now OHKO any Pokémon-EX with the right number of Deoxys EX and HypnoBank.
The downside to all this is how, being a Tool card, it is susceptible to the omnipresent Tool Scrapper, though this does not generally interfere with the Energy acceleration.
Superior Energy Retrieval
Blastoise variants will be the first ones to fit these into their decks. There are two important things to note about this card that players need to know.
First, the discarding effect is a requirement to play it but not the retrieval of energy. What this means is that you can discard two cards even if there are no basic Energy cards in the discard pile, useful when you want to play Bianca or Bicycle. Of course, there’s no “may” written in the text, so you still have to take back basic Energy cards if there are any in your discard pile.
Second, you cannot retrieve Energy cards you discarded in order to use Superior Energy Retrieval. So if you have less than four basic Energy cards in the discard pile and you discard one or two more, you can only take back what was already in the discard pile before you played the card and not the ones you just discarded.
Notable Non-EX Pokémon
Chandelure is the second Pokémon Energy accelerator we have besides Victini EX that pulls directly from the deck. Being a Stage 2 is horrible at this point of time but if you can set one or two up, there are several Pokémon beside the commonly used ones that can become viable.
Reshiram EX, while risky, can deal 180 damage with the help of HypnoBank, although the potential of losing 60 or more HP is scary indeed. Regigigas EX is another potential, especially since it likes having damage counters on it.
Conversely, if we are going for guaranteed OHKOs or 2HKOs, Pokémon Center can help in cushioning the constant self-damage.
Kyurem is the Plasma Pokémon to keep an eye out that isn’t a Pokémon-EX. Sporting a non-donkable 130 HP, its main use is as a Landorus EX counter for Thundurus EX, while having the same sniping attack ability as Landorus EX itself that can be increased further with Power Connect, turning it closer to a Darkrai EX than Landorus EX.
It also serves as a perfect counter for Plasma EX decks against PlasmaKlang with Blizzard Burn. Throw in ye ol’ HypnoBank and some Deoxys EX and you are OHKOing Pokémon-EX as well.
If Kyurem is for Plasma Basics, then Absol is for Darkrai variants. While Absol may be somewhat unreliable with Mind Jack being dependant on your opponent’s bench, bench size for Plasma Basics are usually always full, as is for PlasmaKlang as well, Darkrai EX’s worst nightmare.
Like Kyurem, Absol also has the ability to take advantage of Power Connect. But it is also able to abuse other cards like Dark Patch and Dark Claw to make up for its unreliability. Being able to take advantage of the two most reliable Item-based Energy acceleration is simply too good to ignore.
While Mr. Mime does not protect you from being Catchered, it does provide some protection against snipers. This card deserves honourable mention because it may actually allow evolution decks to thrive without fear of being sniped. In more realistic situations, it provides peace of mind against the same snipers to prevent any double-KO plays common in Darkrai and Landorus builds.
Fun Deck Ideas
If you are looking for tips on how to build a strong tier 1 deck, I’d suggest you read the other articles. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to test any of the new decks thanks to me being in my final year of university (some of you can probably relate), and even if I did, there can only be so many reports about how awesome Plasma Basics will be, or how abusive Enhanced Hammer will be.
So the second half of this article will focus on original non-competitive decks that you can try out to de-stress. I’m leaving out Weavile/Exeggcute because you can already find the list readily enough if you search for it.
The concept of Beedrill as a speed deck has existed since the days of Base Set when DCE was first printed, although the original Beedrill decks focused more on stacking Poison damage; the first true Speedrill was not until FireRed & LeafGreen was released, thanks to Rare Candy being in format, and later made famous by Stephen Silvestro in his Raybees (changed to Luxdrill because… yeah).
Being a big fan of Beedrill in TCG since Base Set, I was pretty excited to know that Beedrill had been reprinted again. The goal of Speedrill has never changed: the aim, if you can call it that, is to swarm as many hard-hitting Beedrills as you can.
Pokémon – 14
4 Weedle PLF
2 Kakuna PLF
4 Beedrill PLF
Trainers – 36
3 Ultra Ball
1 Super Rod
Energy – 10
No, I am not going overboard with the Emolga. Because Speedrill is played as a swarm deck, you need every help you can get to fill your bench with Weedles. And because Beedrill’s added effect only kicks in if Beedrill is free of damage, a full set of Max Potions is included; likewise, the inclusion of Dowsing Machine allows for a fifth Max Potion. Tool Scrapper is there to deal with Float Stone ruining the Confusion lock.
One tech to consider is Mr. Mime. Since a healthy Beedrill is the deck’s weak point, having protection against sniping can be beneficial.
This should be a familiar concept. You can read about it in my last article, Return of Sablelock.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 42
2 Hypotoxic Laser
1 Super Rod
1 Life Dew
Energy – 9
PokeBeachThe deck got updated from last time. Eviolite and Max Potion shored up my White Tea matchup to an acceptable level, so they stay as insurance against anything that cannot one-shot Sableye. Tool Scrapper is an unfortunate need due to Float Stone. Likewise, in order to protect Garbodor, Rescue Scarf remains the best Tool card for the job.
The biggest change is the inclusion of Life Dew in the lineup. What it does is create a situation similar to Palkia & Dialga LEGEND, forcing the opponent to knock out more than 6 Pokémon to win the game, while at the same time slowing the game down enough for you to overtake the Prize race.
This was an idea me and a friend were playing around with before States. The idea was to use Togekiss as a wall with Rocky Helmet dealing damage. My friend suggested a full set of Max Potion and Lasers, while I suggested building up Reuniclus and Black Kyurem EX with Crystal Wall as a super sponge.
Pokémon – 15
3 Togepi PLS
1 Togetic PLS
3 Regigigas EX
Trainers – 38
Energy – 7
Rock Guard and Mr. Mime provided new ways to deal damage and protect the weak Solosis respectively. Pokémon Communication takes precedence over Ultra Ball because of the high Pokémon Count, and because only two Pokémon in the lineup cannot be searched by Level Ball.
Obviously the deck has a problem with Garbodor, but the deck doesn’t really have space for anything else.
I really do wish TPCi would do something about the horrendous power creep as it is, in my opinion, making the game rather unhealthy. Of course nothing I say will change how Nationals and Worlds will build up to be, so for all aspiring Pokémon masters out there, I wish you the best of luck for the final stretch.
Thanks for reading!