The Calm Before the Storm

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Credits to Starmetroid on the article title.

Another Regionals has come and gone. Champions crowned and fun was had by all (hopefully). Congratulations to everyone who had success this Regionals, and a special shout-out to my friends Trevore and Chase for their 1st and 3rd place finishes respectfully. Doin’ Victoria proud (unlike some of us, haha).

Writing an article right after a big tournament like Regionals is always awkward. On one hand, the European Challenge Cup is looming on the horizon, and on the other the prospects of a new set are ever so exciting. Today my article is going to try and balance both of these audiences.

Table of Contents

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Reflecting on Regionals

This year the ECC is going to be played in the same format as North American Regionals, so European players get a bit of a treat in terms of seeing how their choice panned out. However the events that transpired on January 20th were not overwhelmingly surprising.

plaidcushion.deviantart.com
Sunday was garbage day.

Most interesting was the success of . Since its release, Garbodor DRX has been one of those cards that just floats around and picks up a win here or a win there. As its Ability “Garbotoxin” is so easily countered by a solid count of Tool Scrapper, playing Garbodor to a successful finish will always entail a good metagame call.

It seems that Alejandro Luna and Dan Richards made such a prediction, piloting Garbodor/Mewtwo EX/Landorus-EX builds to a 2nd place and Top 4 finish in Missouri. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Andrew Krekeler (1st place playing Blastoise/) teched at least 1 Tool Scrapper for the matchup. Not the only Blastoise/Keldeo to take home a 1st place trophy.

Edit: Andrew Krekeler did not in fact tech a Tool Scrapper. I am impressed.

Elsewhere in North America we saw RayEels dominate a Top 4 in Oregon, Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX/Bouffalant DRX eke out a win alongside a T4, and a Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion NVI squeeze out a victory in California.

Results are still pouring in and right now my PokéGym thread is waiting on someone from the 5th and final Regionals to fill in the gaps. But as I said, the metagame as a whole was pretty unsurprising.

In my recent breakdown of What Won Cities, I dubbed Blastoise/Keldeo the title of “Sleeper BDIF.” Though not an overly dominant deck, it nonetheless had seen the most success throughout the tournament series, and looked strong going into Regionals.

blastoise squirtle jigglypuff
Just cleanin’ the tubes.

This probably made a few people hesitant to play Blastoise/Keldeo, considering the target painted on its back. But it’s important to recognize that if the target is painted on solid rock, even if you hit the bullseye, the shot might just ricochet off.

This is the case for Blastoise/Keldeo in my opinion. If you looked at the Pokémon TCG like a game of rock-paper-scissors, Blastoise/Keldeo is rock. Now there are other kinds of rocks out there, and a rock vs. rock battle is going to end in a tie. But there really isn’t that much paper. Blastoise/Keldeo is a deck without a really good counter-measure.

Eelektrik could be overrun by Landorus/Mewtwo or even Garbodor/Landorus/Mewtwo. Darkrai/Big Basics has to deal with Terrakion, Landorus and MewtwoEels, and Ho-Oh had to deal with Blastoise/Keldeo.

But Blastoise/Keldeo’s worst matchup is probably RayEels (or MewtwoEels). Eels works kind of like paper, while decks like Darkrai and Landorus are scissors. There’s just more scissors than there is paper. Rock was free to smash through the metagame without a real solid counter available. That’s why, once people’s lists had been developed through Cities, Blastoise started seeing so much success near the end.

Still, I would not consider Eels a good “paper” substitute, as it has only a slightly favourable matchup against Blastoise/Keldeo. At the same time, Blastoise is also not a perfectly solid rock. There is always the potential for a Stage 2 deck’s inherent inconsistency to rear its ugly head at the worst possible moment.

The point of all this? There are a lot of good decks to choose, and the best answer is not always immediately obvious.

Each of the 4 most dominant archetypes from Cities managed to win a Regionals, which speaks to the general balance in the current format.

Prepping for the ECC

s.s. annepokemon.theirstar.com
Come back in a year.

Considering Garbodor’s success in Missouri, I think that ship has sailed on just like the S.S. Anne. Most players will likely be teching at least one Tool Scrapper into their decks to help combat the garbage bag.

As a result, I wouldn’t hope to counter the metagame with a surprise Garbodor in Europe. Garbodor will have to lay low for a little while before anyone decides it’d be better to cut the Tool Scrapper.

Personally, I would recommend playing any of the 4 following decks:

  1. Blastoise/Keldeo
  2. RayEels
  3. MewtwoEels
  4. Landorus/Mewtwo with Sigilyph

Why these 4 above all else?

Simply put, Blastoise, Eels and Landorus have the rock-paper-scissors type interaction I was talking about earlier, so I really couldn’t recommend one above the other. It has to do with your local metagame, which is difficult to say for the ECC. What I can say is that your tech inclusions are going to be important.

tool scrapper dragons exalted drx 116pokemon-paradijs.com
I wish more Klinklang used Giant Cape, so you could throw a wrench in their gears.

My deck of the past few weeks has been Blastoise/Keldeo, so I’ll provide my list below here. This is the list I played in Salem this past weekend. If there’s one change I would make, it would be to cut the one Max Potion for a Tool Scrapper.

Though I love Max Potion in the deck, I feel like the opportunity for Tool Scrapper to make an impact is going to be greater in the deck with Sigilyph techs floating around and Garbodor having seen some success.

Max Potion is one of the better techs that can manage to swing the mirror match though. Being able to Rush In an energy-less Keldeo-EX and take a hit, only to Max Potion it off seems only situationally useful. But it can really come up at any point in the game, as long as it negates your opponent’s last turn.

Nonetheless, it’s a tech that won’t necessarily win you a game you’re already losing. Tool Scrapper however can give you the chance to win against both an Eviolited Sigilyph (without necessarily losing a Blastoise to a Mewtwo+DCE) or a T2 Garbodor.

For me, that 60th slot is the one tech to try and win a difficult best of 3. Any other matchups are largely settled by strong play and not drawing absolutely dead. But against Garbodor, there’s really very little you can do against the slew of Mewtwos that you’re likely to face.

Here’s my list, Tool Scrapper included:

Pokémon – 12

4 Squirtle BCR

3 Blastoise BCR

3 Keldeo-EX

2 Mewtwo-EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

4 Skyla

3 N

2 Bianca

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Ultra Ball

4 Energy Retrieval

4 Rare Candy

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 15

14 Water

1 Double Colorless

Outside of Max Potion, there are a lot of techs people consider. Pokémon Center or Eviolite are both also useful as Prize denial, primarily to mess up damage calculations against Darkrai. As I mentioned, I wouldn’t worry about Darkrai from the Blastoise/Keldeo perspective. The hardest matchup is with Eels, and it’s something you can pilot your way through.

Advice for the Blastoise Player

eelektrik-noble-victories-nvi-40pokemon-paradijs.com
Come at me bro.

My last bit of advice is for facing Eels. Simply put, a lot of players try to take down Eel decks by taking out the Eels. A sort of “cut off the head and the body will die” mentality. Blastoise/Keldeo really can’t hope to do this against either Eel variant.

Against MewtwoEels, they simply don’t need many Eels to keep a potent threat. And against RayEels, the deck is designed to recover Eels as needed, and set up an undeniable end-game.

Though both decks recycle energy, the one thing RayEels and MewtwoEels can’t replace endlessly are attackers. RayEels only runs 3 EX, which means if you can take the first EX KO, it becomes a lot more difficult for the Eels player to respond. Especially if say… their 3rd Rayquaza EX or Mewtwo is Prized.

Against MewtwoEels, it’s important to bench your Mewtwos as quickly as possible. You’ll need to be able to call on them for the Mewtwo war when it happens, and generally you don’t need to worry about them loading up a 5 energy Mewtwo to take an unexpected KO. If you can prep your bench for a Mewtwo war by taking the first 2 Prizes and keep a couple Mewtwos (possibly with one energy attached) in waiting, you’ll be solid.

Having Mewtwo available is also good for keeping options available mid-game. Whenever a Pokémon dies, being able to promote Mewtwo allows you to attach your available energies appropriately. Sometimes it’s just safer to use Mewtwo than to deluge your energies onto Keldeo only to fish for that 6th or 7th energy.

If you’re going to need to 2HKO, you can set up the Keldeo for the next turn and sweep through. Keldeo has even better “steamroll” potential than Mewtwo, so saving the Keldeo (with 3ish energies) for the next turn can be an even more energy-appropriate response. An unconditional 170 damage is important against a deck like RayEels, which discards all of its energy as it attacks.

So the more energy-efficient you can be with your damage output, the better.

Other Plays for the ECC

sigilyph-dragons-exalted-drx-52-brighterpokemon-paradijs.com
Come at me bro.

So what’s the deal with Sigilyph in Landorus/Mewtwo? Well, the deck can contain additional attackers like Tornadus EX, Terrakion or Bouffalant, but the only thing that I’d consider a near necessity as a tech is Sigilyph.

Landorus/Mewtwo really can’t deal well with Blastoise/Keldeo. Heavy Sigilyph teching (2-3) can wall the deck effectively. It’s the kind of tech that changes the way the deck plays entirely. With Blastoise/Keldeo being as popular as it is, I wouldn’t rely on dodging it throughout top cut.

The deck I failed to recommend is Darkrai/Big Basics. I love the deck and its consistency, but my experiences with the deck(s) have left me a non-believer. I’m not sure it can deal with the 4 above well enough. It has a really good RayEels matchup, but can have a tough time against the other 3.

By no means is it a bad deck, nor do I think it doesn’t stand a chance. But I do think it has trouble keeping up with Blastoise and MewtwoEels and only bats 50/50 at best against Landorus/Mewtwo. Tier 1, but not my recommended play. Though perhaps other writers might disagree with me on this point (cough Ray cough), as is apparent by their winning deck choices.

I did play the deck with cuts to Crushing Hammers in order to fit in techs, but I never removed them entirely (keeping at least 2 in testing). I don’t know the exact details of monsieur Cipolleti’s winning Darkrai/Mewtwo/Bouffalant deck, nor the details about his path to the finals.

But I know if I were to play the deck it would run Mewtwo as a general metagame check (Mewtwo is never bad, even if it doesn’t absolutely counter any deck), and I can definitely agree with the Bouffalant.

I’ve talked a lot about Hammertime at this point, so I guess my only advice from here on out is: “try out what worked.” The Virginia metagame saw 2 Darkrai/Mewtwo/Bouff decks make top 4. This is likely a metagame result, but nonetheless impressive! After all, there were 3 RayEels in top 4 in Oregon, but only one made it elsewhere.

So looking at the results of all Regionals as a whole, Darkrai didn’t do too well. But you can’t argue with results!

For anyone still playing BLW-BCR, I wish you the best of luck! I genuinely think that any of the 4 decks I listed above are very capable of winning an event (and even some others beyond the 4 I listed). But this format is still very wide open. In terms of variety of choice, I think there are more decks available that could feasibly win a tournament in this format than BLW-DRX.

The Storm

zapdos ex plasma storm 48
This caption is anything but “Come at me bro.”

Perhaps you’ve heard? Plasma Storm is being released on February 6th. Considering we were expecting Ether from Boundaries Crossed, which we obviously didn’t get, I’m approaching this topic cautiously.

At the moment we have the 8 EXs confirmed. We know 6 to be EX, Cobalion-EX, Victini-EX, Articuno-EX, Moltres-EX, and Zapdos-EX. The other 2 are likely Black Kyurem-EX PLS and White Kyurem-EX PLS. We’re also confirmed to get 14 Trainers including 3 ACE SPECs, which should be Dowsing Machine, Victory Piece, and Scramble Switch.

This set is also supposed to have 135 cards plus secret rares, while its Japanese counterpart has but 76 plus secret rares. So we are going to be getting cards from other sets included in Plasma Storm.

But what are these cards? There are going to be a lot of Pokémon (and perhaps some Trainers) introduced from future sets to fill in these gaps. We did not get Ether, Bicycle, and Escape Rope, so these are likely contributions. The real question is whether or not any other cards we receive are going to be competitive. That is something I could not possibly know.

Additionally, they may hold back cards from this set to release them later. Imagine if we didn’t get Plasma Frigate this set! I think it’s unlikely, but they have done something similar by holding Ether back from Boundaries Crossed.

So for now we can only work with what we know, and await pre-releases to confirm the contents of the set. But because of this, I caution anyone testing the BLW-PLS format. If you’re interested in some of the other cards with potential that are not confirmed yet, I’ll be writing about them this week on my blog TCG with Hats.

Important Cards from What We Do Know

The first most important cards to discuss here are the EXs that are likely to see play. These are Victini-EX, Articuno-EX, Cobalion-EX, and Lugia EX. We are also confirmed to get 8 total EXs, which probably means White Kyurem EX and Black Kyurem EX from the Japanese Battle Strength theme decks.

Let’s introduce everyone to our new, 2-Prize relinquishing, powerhouses. After that, I’ll go from the confirmed list and just discuss Magnezone, Crobat, Giratina, and Klinklang. Thankfully, these 4 all have some decent potential.

Crawdaunt’s note: A reminder on notation. As Fire and Fighting share a first letter, Fire is coded “R” and Fighting “F.” So in describing an attack’s energy cost, RFCC would be one Fire, one Fighting and two Colourless Energy.

1. Victini-EX

VictiniEXPlasmaGale12Bulbapedia
Not as bad as it first seems.

Victini-EX is a 110 HP Fire type Basic. It has one retreat cost and a Water Weakness. Victini-EX has two attacks. For R, Victini-EX can search your deck for 2 basic Energy cards, and attach them to your Benched Pokémon in any way you like. For RCC, Victini-EX deals 50 damage plus another 50 damage if the defending Pokémon is an EX.

Victini-EX seems pretty underwhelming from these stats, so why does it merit discussion? Victini’s ACE SPECVictory Piece” allows Victini-EX to use its attacks without requiring the Energy cost.

Since you can run one Victory Piece and 4 Skyla, this gives you 5 outs to nab a Victory Piece on your first turn (provided Victory Piece is not Prized). That is a 48.1% chance to start with Victory Piece on your first turn with a Victini-EX start, provided Victory Piece is not Prized. That 48.1% also doesn’t account for just drawing into Victory Piece off a first turn Supporter.

This means Victini-EX can attack for 50 to 100 damage on the first turn approximately half the time. Combined with another new card that is likely to be run quite often, Hypnotoxic Laser, Victini-EX can donk 60 HP Basics very easily.

With Hypnotoxic Laser and PlusPower, a quad Victini-EX deck could easily deal 60-70 damage on the first turn to non-EXs, and 110-120 to EXs. That sort of turn 1 power is not to be underestimated.

Not that I necessarily recommend a quad Victini-EX deck, but a similar deck type could see powerful play. Especially considering Victini’s first attack makes it a respectable starter. The 110 HP might disappoint, but only if your opponent can manage your other attackers first.

Since this idea is likely a little foreign, here’s a concept list:

Pokémon – 9

4 Victini-EX

3 Lugia-EX

2 Mewtwo-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 Skyla

3 N

2 Bianca

2 Colress

 

4 Colress Machine

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Escape Rope

3 Ultra Ball

1 Victory Piece

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 15

7 Fire

4 Plasma

4 Double Colorless

What I’ve done here is make a deck where a T1 Victini is a constant threat. But without it, you can have a very threatening T2. With a Lugia EX benched, Victini can charge 1-2 energy to Lugia or 1 to a Lugia and other attacker. This allows a follow-up T2 where you can attach a DCE and use Colress machine to fire off a T2 Plasma Gale.

With 4 Catcher and 3 Escape Rope in the deck, Lugia can start taking 2 prizes per turn as easily on T2. Not to mention that a T1 Victini for 50-100 is equally threatening if not moreso.

This deck is out to destroy any setup deck in the format. Against other Big Basic decks, I can see it having more trouble. But Victini + Victory Piece is a solid attacker against Mewtwo EX, and can donk/1HKO Plasma Klinklang.dec. Right now I have no counter to that deck once it is set up, but if I were looking to add one it would be Victini NVI 15, which is easily splashed in.

2. Articuno-EX

articuno plasma storm
OMG Gaiz! Articuno/Blastoise/Garbodor! So Good!

Articuno-EX is a 170 HP EX Water type Basic. It has 1 retreat cost, a Metal Weakness, and a Fighting Resistance. Articuno-EX has two attacks. For WCC, Articuno’s “Blizzard” deals 60 damage to the opponent’s Active Pokémon, and 10 damage to each of their Benched Pokémon.

For WWCC, “Frost Prison” deals 80 damage with an additional effect. As long as Articuno-EX has a Plasma Energy attached, the Defending Pokémon is now Paralyzed.

Due to the crippling nature of Paralysis, any auto-Paralysis attack is intriguing to say the least. Articuno-EX’s attack is possibly one of the easiest auto-Paralysis conditions to meet that I have seen, thanks to a sufficient energy accelerator already in the format in the form of Blastoise.

However with Hypnotoxic Laser being released as well, players will be sure to have some method of dealing with Status Conditions such as Paralysis and Sleep. There are ample status-healing cards in the format, along with abilities like Keldeo-EX’s Rush In.

Thus, though Articuno-EX has a powerful auto-Paralysis attack, I don’t see it being much more than an optional tech attacker in Blastoise/Keldeo.

3. Cobalion-EX

CobalionEXPlasmaGale49Bulbapedia
Put a banana in your ear!

Cobalion-EX is a 180 HP Metal type Basic. It has 2 retreat cost, a Weakness to Fire, and a Resistance to Psychic. Cobalion-EX has two attacks. For M, “Holy Edge” deals 30 damage and discards a Special Energy card attached to the Defending Pokémon.

For MMC, “Steel Bullet” deals 100 damage which is not affected by Weakness, Resistance, or any other effects on the defending Pokémon.

Cobalion has seen a good amount of pre-order hype. Holy Edge provides Metal types an energy-efficient attacker that can deal important damage on the first turn. Again, combine this with Hypnotoxic Laser and you can deal additional damage.

I didn’t mention Virbank City Gym in the Victini-EX section, since getting the Stadium up while also obtaining a Victory Piece is unlikely. But in decks running cards like Landorus-EX or Cobalion-EX, the combination of Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym can add an additional 30 poison damage to any first-turn attacks.

Thus, Cobalion-EX can donk 60 HP Basics about as easy as Tornadus EX using Blow Through for 60 damage. It requires a basic Energy attachment (very easy to do), and two cards in combination. Hypnotoxic Laser (likely a 4-of) and Virbank City Gym (possibly another 4-of).

Well, we know from experience how much of a threat a first turn Tornadus EX Blow Through can be, so while the possibility exists it is not the most concerning problem of the new format. What is more pertinent is the ability to remove Special Energies.

With Plasma Energy on the horizon, and an energy-accelerator Item card in “Colress Machine” that pulls Plasma Energies out of the deck and attaches them, being able to remove Special Energies may prove quite useful.

Cobalion-EX also provides another EX attacker on top of Giratina EX that can KO Sigilyphs, and unconditionally 2HKO opposing EXs. This may be relevant to the current Klinklang + EXs deck, but there is going to be a new Klinklang released that could partner quite well with Cobalion-EX. I’ll discuss the Plasma Klinklang on its own, as I think there’s a lot to contemplate.

4. Lugia EX

LugiaEXPlasmaStorm108Bulbapedia
So apparently Team Plasma captured a Lugia?

Lugia EX is the big bad super-hyped EX of the set. Lugia EX is a 180 HP normal basic. It has 2 retreat cost, a weakness to Lightning and a resistance to Fighting. For CCCC, Lugia’s one attack “Plasma Gale” deals 120 damage provided you discard a Plasma Energy attached to Lugia EX If you cannot, the attack does nothing.

Why the hype? Lugia’s Ability “Overflow” says that you take an additional Prize card when Lugia EX KOs a Pokémon, similar to RDL’s “Space Virus” Poké-Body.

Lugia is highly splashable thanks to its Colourless attack cost. Combined with Colress Machine and Energy Acceleration, charging up the 4 energy attack is not going to be too difficult. Though the need for alternate energy acceleration does reserve Lugia EX to use primarily with Eelektrik, Blastoise, Hydreigon and Emboar variants.

And with the release of Victini-EX, Plasma Klinklang and Cobalion-EX it is worth noting that Emboar still exists.

How good will Lugia EX be? Think about it this way… Lugia EX robs your opponent from being able to force that “7th Prize.” What’s more, you can KO low-HP basics and support Pokémon and Lugia EX is immediately at least an even investment in terms of Prizes taken and given up. Lugia EX can also provide the follow-up attacker to a 2HKO on an EX for 3 Prizes taken.

Essentially, Lugia EX allows you to manipulate the Prize exchange in your favour. However the reliance on discarding Special Energies does pose some difficulties. For this reason, I see Lugia EX being more of a support attacker than main attacker in many decks, running 1-2 copies.

5. Black Kyurem-EX PLS (unconfirmed)

430px-BlackKyuremEXBlackKyuremEXStrengthDeck8Bulbapedia
You do have to discard 3 Energies for the second attack.

Black Kyurem EX #2 is a lot better than Black Kyurem EX #1. A worthy user of that Crystal Wall ACE SPEC. Black Kyurem-EX PLS has 2 attacks. For CCC, it does a vanilla 60 damage. But for WWLC it hits for 200, capable of 1HKOing any EX in the format through Eviolite, barring Aspertia City Gym.

Black Kyurem EX can slot into Blastoise/Keldeo pretty well. But requiring the Lightning Energy will mess with consistency slightly. Black Kyurem EX’s job in Blastose/Keldeo is essentially to replace Mewtwo in terms of a response KO.

And by discarding the Water Energies attached, it can provide an attacker for Blastoise/Keldeo to use that won’t get hit hard by a return Mewtwo.

However there are a couple other new EXs that are vying for a spot in Blastoise/Keldeo (Articuno, Lugia), so Black Kyurem EX will have to make a strong impact in early testing to warrant a spot in an already dominant deck.

As far as I can tell, it is definitely a force to be reckoned with (and an important card to test with). Any deck not named RayEels or Hydreigon would have to 3HKO this behemoth when it has the Crystal Wall ACE SPEC attached. Losing Computer Search and Dowsing Machine might hurt, but there is undeniable power here.

6. Magnezone PLS 46

MagnezonePlasmaStorm46Bulbapedia
It’s not Magnezone’s… prime time.

Magnezone’s “Dual Brains” Ability allows you to use 2 Supporter cards per turn. Its attack “Gyro Ball” is respectable, but underwhelming in terms of something you would focus a deck on. However Dual Brains is an interesting Ability.

I agree with Zach that right now is likely not Magnezone’s time to shine. There are just too many consistency engines in the form of Item cards that decks can accomplish what they need to without the additional Supporter.

Unlike Magnezone Prime, Magnezone PLS 46 doesn’t protect from late game N’s either. At some point, I’m sure Magnezone will become a more tempting consideration. But at the moment, I’d prioritize my testing elsewhere.

It’s also important to note that Magnemite PLS introduces a 60 HP Fighting-Weak Basic into your deck, which is not appreciated.

7. Crobat PLS

crobat plasma storm
Come at me bro.

Crobat is not a card I expect to see do particularly well. But I’m open to be pleasantly surprised. Crobat does have a couple interesting traits I rather like.

The ability to draw a card for each Crobat is an appreciated consistency crutch. Free retreat is always a handy trait to have. And the weakness to Lightning rather than Psychic allows Crobat to survive a Mewtwo + DCE X Ball. A resistance to fighting also helps Zubats to avoid being donked by Landorus-EX.

Unfortunately Zubat’s 40 HP is extremely vulnerable, and Landorus could still donk with Virbank + Hypnotoxic Laser. The Zubat does have an Ability that gives it free retreat when it does not have energy attached, so at least that’s a plus.

What is interesting about Crobat is its potential with Virbank City Gym. Virbank City Gym is a card we will likely get, but Crobat has potential even without Virbank. Its attack deals 40 damage and poisons the defending Pokémon.

However, similar to Crobat Prime, the Defending Pokémon is dealt 4 Poison damage counters between turns, rather than just 1. With Virbank, Crobat will essentially deal 100 damage for PCC, and if they stay in after their turn, the Defending Pokémon will take another 60 damage before your turn, and 60 damage again going back into their turn.

That sort of residual damage is avoidable, but also powerful.

8. Giratina PLS

GiratinaPlasmaGale35Bulbapedia
Come at me bro.

Giratina is a new type of Big Basic. A non-EX Psychic type. Its first attack “Hex” works very well with Hypnotoxic Laser. For just PCC it deals 50 damage, and 50 more if the Defending Pokémon is affected by a Special Condition.

With Colress Machine, DCE, Etherdex and Hypnotoxic Laser in the format, Giratina very well could donk Mewtwo EXs, or at least respond out of nowhere mid-game. Giratina’s second attack is a respectable 90 damage (if Giratina bothers to attach 4 energy) with a coin flip to discard one card randomly from your opponent’s hand.

The second attack likely won’t see much use, but Hex is certainly powerful.

Giratina’s 3 retreat cost also makes it searchable by Heavy Ball. The only unfortunate stat about Giratina EX is its Weakness to Dark. This is at least better than a Psychic Weakness! Though Darkrai EX is a prominent force in the metagame, it most certainly is not as overwhelming as it used to be.

I’m also pretty sure Giratina will play a major role in some sort of general “Plasma Big Basics” archetype. So for anyone interested, here’s a concept list:

Pokémon – 9

3 Giratina PLS

3 Mewtwo-EX

1 Lugia-EX

2 Sigilyph DRX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Colress

2 Skyla

2 Bianca

 

4 Colress Machine

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Escape Rope

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Ultra Ball

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Plasma Frigate

1 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 14

6 Psychic

4 Plasma

4 Double Colorless

This deck could also run a split of 2 Virbank City Gym and 1 Plasma Frigate if you’re more interested in the potential for Hex to essentially hit for 130. Again, I’ve dropped a Pokémon Catcher and just used Escape Rope as my alternate Catcher.

As an alternate idea, Giratina could make quite a good partner for Crobat PLS, giving the bat a Big Basic starter to buffer Zubat starts. The two would mesh nicely with Colress Machine as well, and they don’t share a Weakness. Mewtwo EX and/or Sigilyph and/or Lugia EX should make it into the deck too, but I’d imagine a Giratina/Crobat would be pretty a solid backbone.

9. Klinklang PLS

Bulbapedia
Come at me bro (provided you are an EX).

Klinklang is an important EX-hate Pokémon. Its Ability “Plasma Steel” prevents your Metal Pokémon from being damaged by opposing Pokémon EX. This includes Klinklang itself, which essentially makes it a Stage 2 Sigilyph that makes your fellow metal Pokémon immune to damage from EXs.

With Cobalion-EX in the format, along with Registeel-EX as two powerful Metal Pokémon available, Klinklang/Metal types may just prove to be a difficult matchup.

One thing a lot of people are immediately trying to do is to work Plasma Klinklang into the existing Klinklang BLW builds, but the two really don’t mesh too well. Klinklang BLW is about Prize denial by healing. Klinklang PLS is about Prize denial by immunity.

With one up, there’s really little need for the other. So if you do start testing Klinklang PLS, I strongly recommend just sticking to Klinklang PLS and at most teching a single Klinklang BLW. Energy manipulation is a worth a tech after all.

As a fun non-obvious idea to include with Klinklang PLS, perhaps it’s time to take another look at Durant NVI. With protection from EX’s thanks to Klinklang, Durant can likely stall out by catchering up an EX and Devouring. EXs are the most prominent Basics, so I would bet it would be unlikely for an opponent to start with a non-EX Pokémon.

Couple this with Virbank City Gym and Hypnotoxic Laser and the Durant deck not only has Cobalion-EX to attack alongside Poison damage, but Hypnotoxic Laser has the 25% chance that they’ll be Asleep on their turn, which means 1/4 of your turns you may just get a free Devour off.

Running 4-of Durant as a tech in the deck also gives the deck an alternate win condition to drop when your opponent has had to burn through their resources to fish for their Klinklang counter. Again, here’s a concept list:

Pokémon – 13

4 Klink DEX

3 Klinklang PLS

3 Durant NVI

1 Durant DRX

2 Cobalion-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

3 Colress

 

3 Ultra Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Rare Candy

3 Escape Rope

2 Revive

2 Heavy Ball

1 Dowsing Machine

 

1 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

11 Metal

2 Revives allow Cobalion to remain an attacker throughout the game, and keep a stream of Durants going. Durant DRX is an amazing tech in a deck that gives metal Pokémon immunity to EX’s. I’m tempted to run 2/2 on the Durant line, but for now am sticking to 3/1. I strongly recommend trying Durant DRX no matter what Klinklang PLS build you decide on.

Other Important Cards To Mention

All the Pokémon are interesting inclusions. But where this set is really going to shake things up is in the available Trainers. The only confirmed Items are Hypnotoxic Laser and Dowsing Machine, so I’ll go over those first. After that, we can look at Trainers that are most likely going to be in the set.

1. Hypnotoxic Laser

HypnotoxicLaserPlasmaStorm123Bulbapedia
Coming at you bro.

This card is going to be huge. It’s already $10 as an uncommon for pre-order on Troll and Toad. There is no way this is worth it, but that just goes to show how much people are going to be playing Hypnotoxic Laser. The effect is twofold. One, the defending Pokémon is now Poisoned. Two, flip a coin. If heads the defending Pokémon is now Asleep.

Poison alongside Virbank is already like a PlusPower on steroids, but the added chance of Sleep is just rubbing salt in the wounds.

Think about it like this. With Hypnotoxic Laser out, you don’t need to attack in your first two turns to do 90 damage to a defending Pokémon unlucky enough to be unable to retreat. Crobat G was good as a searchable, droppable PlusPower.

This is leagues better than that. There’s going to be a UG article half-dedicated to this card, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

2. Dowsing Machine

Dowsing Machine is like an improved Junk Arm. This ACE SPEC lets you discard two cards and grab any Trainer from your discard pile and put it in your hand. Thus Dowsing Machine can grab you Supporters and Stadiums as well as Items.

I’m pretty sure Dowsing Machine is my “general” ACE SPEC of choice this format. Computer Search is great, but having the option of a 5th Catcher or a Supporter out (once a Supporter is discarded) or extra “____” is going to be too good.

Additionally, Dowsing Machine can grab you the extra part of your EtherDex combo for that extra Ether on the turn you need it. Really just using one more of the somewhat overpowered Item Cards we currently have is game-changing.

To illustrate my point, busting out an extra Stadium for the Stadium war, or even grabbing a “5th” N when you’ve been forced to discard all 4 will be devestating.

3. Scramble Switch (unconfirmed)

ScrambleSwitchPlasmaGale68Bulbapedia
If you push this button, one of two things will happen… *click*

Scramble Switch is the other particularly important ACE SPEC in the set. Scramble Switch vs. Dowsing Machine is kind of like Computer Search vs. Gold Potion. One seems incredibly superior to the other, but Gold Potion definitely made an argument for itself nearing the end of BLW-BCR. Scramble Switch makes a much better argument vs. Dowsing Machine in my opinion.

Scramble Switch switches your Active Pokémon with one of your Benched Pokémon, and moves all the Energy attached to your former Active Pokémon to your new Active Pokémon.

On first inspection, it seems really good, but not as good as something like Dowsing Machine or Computer Search. It seems like something meant for a specific deck and not the format as a whole. But the card alone is the kind of thing that only really shows how game-changing it can be in play.

The important effect of this card is how it is essentially a super-powered “Energy Switch” that has the added bonus of being a Switch.

The most obvious deck that can abuse Scramble Switch is Blastoise/Keldeo, which can load up a new Keldeo with all the currently-attached energy along with whatever you fish out that turn. In Blastoise decks, Scramble Switch is 2/3 of the best part of Super Scoop Up, without the flip.

The only thing you don’t get with the card is the healing, which can be provided by Max Potion on that, or the next turn. If they Catcher-KO the damaged Keldeo, they leave the undamaged Keldeo with all the energy alone.

In other decks, it is nonetheless a powerful effect. It makes Catchering a damaged attacker a much less profitable in the exchange, and in general a bad idea. As I mentioned, this means they’d leave the charged attacker alone, which is probably A-okay with the Scramble Switch player.

4. Ether (unconfirmed, but I would be surprised if they held it back again)

Bulbapedia
Oh TPCi, you troll.

Ether caused a lot of grief in the week or two we were playing it before we found out about the disappointing reprints in Boundaries Crossed. Everyone was head over heels in love with the card, and for good reason.

Ether introduces universal energy acceleration, no matter the deck. “Reveal the top card of your deck, if it is a basic Energy card attach it to one of your Pokémon. If not, return it to the top of your deck.”

Of course Ether is going to be combined with Pokédex to allow you to re-arrange your top 5 cards and ensure that Ether pulls off the energy accel you need.

There is one other card that is worth mentioning in combination with Ether. The Lunatone from Freeze Bolt allows you to look at the top 2 cards of your deck and re-arrange them. This is quite underwhelming compared to Pokédex, but it is easily searched and infinitely re-usable.

Earlier I went over how Lugia EX can help your opponent ensure there is no “7th Prize,” so Lunatone is probably not worth the bench space anymore. If it had been released in BLW-BCR alongside Ether, it may have just had its time to shine.

5. Colress Machine (likely included)

I would be quite surprised if they gave us Plasma Energy but not Colress Machine. Colress Machine is more Item-based Energy acceleration. It allows you to attach a Plasma Energy card from your deck to one of your Plasma Pokémon.

So do not be confused and think this is universal energy acceleration like Ether. You are limited to a restricted cardpool when using Colress Machine (i.e. your deck must contain a decent number of Plasma Pokémon as attackers).

Is this a bad thing? Not really. There are good Plasma Pokémon on the horizon, and Lugia EX is amongst them of course! But for now Colress Machine will be a great inclusion in only a few decks. Including the Colress engine alongside the Etherdex engine is also somewhat hard to fit in due to space issues. So in general the choice will be one or the other.

6. Colress (likely included)

ColressPlasmaGale75Bulbapedia
Come at me… bro?

Colress is a much-awaited shuffle back Supporter. Shuffle your hand back and draw as many cards as the number of Pokémon on both benches. The current Bulbapedia translation lists it as draw “up to” the total number of Pokémon on both benches.

I don’t think this is the case, as I don’t see that wording on the card (I read Japanese). So be warned this is likely a translational slip-up, and test as if it is mandatory. I’m pretty darned sure of this. I keep re-reading the descriptive sentence and there is no optional clause in there.

So what is the impact Colress will have? Well, Colress gives you a very good late-game shuffle-back draw Supporter. For anyone who has been longing for a PONT replacement, this is the next best thing.

The one problem with Colress is the early game lack of draw. Without a sufficient number of benched Pokémon in play, Colress will be underwhelming. But this is really not as big an issue as you may think for two reasons.

  1. Colress can become a worthwhile Supporter as early as the second turn, so it’s not the same as starting dead with a Supporterless hand.
  2. In decks that play Tropical Beach, you can protect against early-game Colress and leave yourself with a full 7 cards.

Nonetheless, I’d caution running full counts of Colress in your testing, as you don’t want to be left staring at it in your opening hand too often.

7. Team Plasma Grunt (likely included)

One more draw Supporter for you here. Team Plasma Grunt is very much like Engineer’s Adjustments, except you must discard a Team Plasma card. I don’t see this being a great Supporter for a couple reasons.

  1. Though straight draw 4 is pretty good, there isn’t much to discard. All the Team Plasma cards we have at our disposal are useful. You can discard Team Plasma Pokémon to fulfill the requirement, but the decks we are likely going to be playing in the upcoming set will only have a few Pokémon in them.
  2. Bianca is generally just fine. Working your hand down to a Bianca and 2 cards is not that difficult with cards like Ultra Ball, Computer Search and Dowsing Machine being staples. What’s more is the number of spammable Items we’ll have like Colress Machine, Ether, Pokédex (which is quite useful in combination with Bianca), Hypnotoxic Laser etc… will make it easy to work your hand down.

I don’t expect much from Team Plasma Grunt. But as the set is Plasma Storm I expect we’ll be getting it.

8. Plasma Frigate (unconfirmed)

PlasmaFrigatePlasmaGale66Bulbapedia
yohoho he took a bit of gum gum

Plasma Frigate is a new Stadium that removes the Weakness of all Pokémon with Plasma energy attached. This is obviously a very powerful effect for any deck to have in it. But what’s more interesting is how this only increases the number of good Stadiums in the format.

We’re going to have Tropical Beach, Skyarrow Bridge, Aspertia City Gym, Virbank City Gym and Plasma Frigate as top tier Stadiums. Not to mention Pokémon Center in Blastoise/Keldeo decks.

We will be getting into Stadium wars this next format. If your Stadium is important to your deck, I’d be running at least 3. More than that, if your deck is weak to another deck based around a Stadium, you may just want to run extra copies of your Stadium of choice even if it’s not essential.

9. Escape Rope (unconfirmed, but I would be surprised if they held it back again)

Escape Rope is a generally superior Switch. This card is a Warp Point reprint. What this does is it will allow decks some space by not having to choose between Pokémon Catcher and Switch. Not that Escape Rope is a Pokémon Catcher, what they bring out is optional.

But Escape Rope will allow skill plays, and some small deckbuilding leeway. I nonetheless expect to see 4 Catcher as a staple, but 3 Catcher may be run more often thanks to Escape Rope.

And though Dowsing Machine is an ACE SPEC, many players will appreciate the leeway it provides in deckbuilding in a similar way.

I’ve taken advantage of this in my concept lists above, though I’d really like to find room for the 4th Catcher and Escape Rope in both. I can see where I might take cards out to make room, but I’d start my testing without the 4th Escape Rope to see how it goes. We do have Dowsing Machine after all!

10. Bicycle (unconfirmed, but I would be surprised if they held it back again)

professor oak bicycle diglett
Digletts are the worst part of exercise.

Bicycle is the last card I’ll be discussing for this set preview. I’ll just say right now that I don’t think Bicycle will be very good at all. It is Item-based draw, but underwhelming. Draw until you have 4 cards in your hand is just too few for my liking.

There are many good cards I would rather include other than Bicycle. So while some speed decks might be tempted into running the card, I think the space is likely better spent on cards like Hypnotoxic Laser, Virbank City Gym and Ether + Pokédex.

If you still have room after all that, then Bicycle might get the nod.

Conclusion

So there you have it! If you’re going to the ECC, I wish you the best of luck and hope my advice from the Blastoise perspective was useful! And for everyone now looking ahead to Plasma Storm, I hope this was a good introduction to the cards from the next set.

After being shaken up by Boundaries Crossed, we do have to approach our theorymon of Plasma Storm with a grain of salt.

But nonetheless the confirmed cards are some of the most important inclusions (and most discussed/hyped), and the unconfirmed Trainers are very likely inclusions. So I’ve tried to discuss only what I figured would be guaranteed to be in the set.

If you liked this article, let me know by clicking that green +1 button at the bottom, and leave a comment in the forums thread!

Cheers

Crawdaunt Out

p.s. Don’t forget to check out my blog at http://tcgwithhats.blogspot.ca


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