Hey SixPrizes UG!
As you may have noticed, I’ve been very busy putting my all Eye on Japan articles up and it’s already been over a month since my last Underground article! It feels like forever, but it’s good to be back. Since then, I have played in tournaments in Finland, Japan, and the Netherlands, and also a new set has been released, so a lot has happened!
As you may know, I completely failed the ECC with Blastoise and will never play it again. However, whenever I go to a tournament, new ideas start popping into my head, and as a new set was released my head pretty much just fills up with ideas I have to start testing. Therefore, this article will be very traditional article of mine.
Today I’ll concentrate on deck lists. As “the big guy” (Adam) wanted me to keep this article shorter than my last article (which was over 12,000 words – an unnecessary length for any article except one article considering the U.S. Nationals), so for this article I’ve been trying to find out the most interesting decks which are possible thanks to the new set.
To keep things fresh, I’ll mainly concentrate on decks that haven’t yet gotten attention from the other Underground writers.
First though, I’ll discuss Plasma Storm and some of the cards that have sparked a lot of questions and discussion. Then, I’ll take a look at the current metagame’s top tier decks and how they will change due to the new set. After that I’ll go into my personal favorite part of the article – the rogue and unorthodox builds of the new set.
In the end, I believe the article will include lots of interesting lists of old and new decks!
- Table of Contents
- Plasma Storm Overview
- Tier 1 Updated
- New Decks
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- Plasma Storm Overview
- Tier 1 Updated
- New Decks
Pokemon ParadijsLugia EX is probably the most overhyped card of the new set. Yes, you read correctly – overhyped. The fact that it OHKOs pretty much nothing and can’t combo with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym makes it only a mediocre card.
It’s also good to remember that in order to attack with Lugia EX, you need Plasma Energy, which can be sought only via Colress Machine, and the current format doesn’t really have the cards to support Lugia EX in full force.
You may have read my tournament report from Tokyo and you noticed that all the Thundurus EX/Deoxys EX decks played Lugia EX as well. However, did it do anything during the games I played and watched? No. Even with Scramble Switch, Lugia EX is very difficult to get into play because of the energy cost and the pace of this format.
This format is all about heavy hitting Basics and most games are just OHKO races back-to-back. Does a 4 energy cost attack doing 120 damage have room in a metagame like this? I don’t think so.
Jay made a very good point in the discussion on the forums about Lugia EX. Even if it isn’t playable now, the price will probably soar due one reason – it’s a freaking LUGIA EX!!! Lugia cards are always more expensive than the standard cards, only because it’s Lugia. This card will be no exception and, if it happens to become a playable card in the future (like in the Thundurus EX deck, for example), the price will probably settle somewhere between 60-70 dollars.
Don’t expect the price to drop even though the card isn’t playable at the moment.
Ok, I don’t which card is more overhyped – Lugia EX or Cobalion EX. Cobalion is widely discussed, even though it’s not even that good of a card! The only deck it functions in is Plasma Klinklang, and I don’t see that becoming a big deck. The deck pretty much auto-loses to Hammertime, Eelektrik, and any Garbodor variant out there. Not to mention its horrendous matchups against any random PokéDads playing Torterra.
There we have it – Cobalion EX is the number-one overhyped card of the set.
Pokemon ParadijsEven though I’m not that keen on Cobalion EX or Lugia EX, I believe in Victini EX and, in fact, this article will include a deck list where Victini EX plays a big role. The reason why I like Victini EX is because it’s very versatile, even though it only functions with Fire Energy.
Thankfully, the format has enough cards that provide Fire Energy alongside other types (Blend and Prism). Also, you shouldn’t forget Victory Piece, which reduces Victini EX’s energy costs to zero.
To be honest, I don’t see Victory Piece becoming a staple, even for Victini EX decks, as the ACE SPEC repertoire grows all the time and there are some very good cards amongst them (which Erik Nance discussed on Tuesday). Victory Piece isn’t always worth playing. I’ll get back to Victini later on.
Ah, the never-ending war between ACE SPECs. In this battle, I have to go with Scramble Switch. The reasoning for this is just pure experience. I’ve tested with Scramble Switch for about 3 months now and have seen several Japanese lists play it as well.
Most of the Pokémon in the current format has an energy cost of 3. Let’s take for example Darkrai EX. It gets hit for 90 damage, and you don’t enough Dark Patches to build up another Darkrai EX. You’re in a tough spot. Well, thankfully, you have a Skyla in your hand, which you can use to search for Scramble Switch to move all the energy to your benched Darkrai EX and get back into the game.
Scramble Switch is situational, and that’s why I, too, originally thought that it was a bad card. However, the more I tested it, the more I missed it in every single game I didn’t play a deck with Scramble Switch.
It’s one of those cards that you don’t realize to miss until you try it out. Once you get accustomed to it and don’t have it in your deck, you miss it every single turn. I would go as far as saying it’s the best ACE SPEC of the current format.
When it comes to Dowsing Machine, I have to take a completely different stance from the one that, for example, Andrew and Mark took. I think many people are under the illusion that it has to be super good, because Junk Arm was super good, and with Dowsing Machine you can even get back a Supporter!
However, this isn’t the case this time around. Junk Arm was only good because you could play 4 of them in your deck. Remember the time when you teched 1 Junk Arm into your LuxChomp? Was it really that good? Nope. And to be honest, most people didn’t even tech a Junk Arm into their LuxChomps (I was one of them), because it wasn’t that good. Dowsing Machine isn’t that different.
The only decks I see Dowsing Machine being a good card in is T1 Darkrai EX-like decks, but hey, that’s why we have Computer Search. Computer Search better than Dowsing Machine, even in a T1 Darkrai EX deck. I see a lonely and miserable future for Dowsing Machine when the metagame starts forming once again.
However, in the end I must warn you that even though I have tested all of these cards, so have the other UG writers. In the end, I don’t believe there is one correct way to play the cards for everyone, but there is one correct way to play ACE SPECs for each player individually.
For me, Scramble Switch is the make or break card.
Even though I don’t necessarily think the cards are good for the game, I’m glad to see finally some playable Stadiums in the format. Eventually we’ll have real Stadiums wars like back in the day, and, in fact, we already have some mini-scale Stadium wars in the current format!
These cards will become a staple for most Basic decks in the current format, and even Stage 1 and 2 decks can consider playing Hypnotoxic Laser if they have space. Nonetheless, I’ll get back to these cards later on in this article.
I’m not a fan of this card. (I’m being pretty negative today!) The reason for this is that any deck built around it has zero versatility. You can only play Metal Pokémon, and that takes away all the positive attributes that the original Klinklang deck had. Overall, the only two Pokémon that can be played in this deck are Cobalion NVI and Cobalion EX.
I’m a fan of Mark’s Durant/Klinklang build as well, but, in the end, it has no future either. As ironic as it is, Klinklang’s biggest weakness is Klinklang itself. It has a huge retreat and a bad attack for a Stage 2 Pokémon.
Klinklang reminds me a bit of Sigilyph DRX and Garbodor DRX. If people have completely forgotten it and all the stars are aligned, Klinklang can do well. However, it can never become a metagame deck because it’s way too easy to counter.
I see it being competitive, especially in the biggest tournaments, but there is always the risk of facing a theme deck in the first round and after that first round loss no one knows what you’re going to face.
When starting to write this article, I thought I would show you a Klinklang list, but the more I tested Klinklang, the worse it got. Also, almost every UG article so far has at least shown a list of Klinklang, so I don’t really have anything else to offer on it but my opinion.
What I suggest is that you don’t play Klinklang, but just practice how to play against it correctly with your deck and remember it. After that, you don’t have to ever worry about Klinklang again.
Colress is good. It’s not broken, and it’s not a horrible card. When testing Colress, I have found myself very often drawing from 6 to 7 cards. It’s funny that whenever you are using Colress, you rarely have full bench at that point.
Colress can be horrendous on the first turn, but in the end, I believe that it will become a staple for almost every Basic deck that can have a big bench. Evolution decks often have trouble with getting their bench full early in the game, so Colress can be very dangerous during the first few turns.
Pokemon ParadijsAh, a Stadium card. When I first saw the translation of Plasma Frigate, I was completely sold. However, the more I played it, the better I understood why it isn’t nearly as good as it looks. First of all, you can only run 4 Plasma Energy, which is almost useless for most of your Pokémon.
I immediately saw potential with Plasma Frigate in a Darkrai EX deck, but since Colress Machine only searches Plasma Energy to attach to Plasma Pokémon, my plans were ruined the moment I came up with them.
And, in the end, even if you run Plasma Frigate in a Plasma deck, it will be countered in a way or another. Most decks play Stadiums thanks to Virbank City Gym, so Plasma Frigate is often completely useless. Also, you can run into a random Enhanced Hammer that discards the Plasma Energy, thus making Plasma Frigate useless.
The biggest problem with Plasma Frigate is that your opponent can react to it. The effect of Plasma Frigate takes action on your opponent’s turn, which allows your opponent to plan their whole turn for avoiding the Plasma Frigate. Plasma Frigate will become one of the “this was supposed to be good” cards.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 33
Energy – 14
After failing the ECC with the U.S. Regionals winning deck, I wanted to get rid of the Mewtwo EX variant of Blastoise as soon as possible. That’s why I’m glad that Black Kyurem EX was released. It’s extremely good in Blastoise – especially thanks to Cilan.
- You have a hard time drawing into the two Lightning Energy without it.
- With Cilan and one additional energy in your hand, you have enough energy to power up the Black Kyurem EX as soon as you get it to play.
Pokemon ParadijsAlso, when it comes to Black Kyurem EX, Heavy Ball becomes so good for this deck. It can search for Blastoise AND Black Kyurem EX, and I wouldn’t be surprised even if it becomes a staple card for this deck.
No card comes without its drawbacks though, and Black Kyurem EX is no exception. It’s very good against EX-heavy decks like Darkrai EX variants because it can end the game with 3 attacks. However, at the moment the question is, does Blastoise have enough tools to facilitate 3 consecutive hits by Black Kyurem EX?
This list has 14 energy and has maximized the Energy Retrievals. Frankly, that isn’t always enough. Attaching 3 energy per turn for 3 turns is difficult, even for a Blastoise deck, and I don’t expect this deck to achieve its full potential before the Super Energy Retrieval is released, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t near Tier 1 now.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 38
Energy – 13
As I believe that Blastoise will see a decrease in play, this kind of Landorus/Mewtwo deck may become viable again. This deck is all about speed and hitting for Weaknesses. The speed comes from the EtherDex engine, which Andrew explained superbly in this last UG article. The difference of this deck compared to the three which Andrew had tested is that the energy gotten with Ether is only a nice extra – the deck doesn’t necessarily require Ether against some decks.
As you can see, the list is very close to the other Landorus/Mewtwo lists introduced in Underground earlier this season, so other than the EtherDex, there are two card decisions which I want to comment on.
First, PlusPower. Wait a minute! PlusPower? Weren’t we just discussing about how Hypnotoxic Laser is better? It sure is – as long as you have space for the Virbank City Gym. And, in most decks it’s better than PlusPower, even if you don’t have access to Virbank City Gym.
However, the reason why PlusPower is more playable in this deck is because of the deck’s typing. Fighting is the most popular Weakness of the metagame and while Hypnotoxic Laser only adds 1 damage, PlusPower is able to create 20 additional damage when hitting for Weakness.
And, when Retaliating an Eviolited Darkrai EX, you know that the one PlusPower makes the all the difference in the world.
Second, Scramble Switch. Not only is it the best ACE SPEC in the format, it’s a beast card in this kind of deck, which has trouble energy accelerating in the late game. Move your 2 energy from you active Landorus EX to a freshly benched Terrakion and attach one energy to Terrakion to hit Land Crush? Done.
You can even use Scramble Switch as an emergency Switch if you need to and if you have discarded all your Switches, you will completely surprise your opponent. When everyone understands just how good Scramble Switch is, it will become a staple card.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 38
Energy – 13
I like this deck better than the pure speed variant mainly due to the fact that it has more options and because Tornadus EX is so good. Tornadus EX pretty much defines the whole list. With 3 Virbanks you can guarantee a very quick 60 with Tornadus EX and also you can counter every single Stadium your opponent throws at you. This is one of those decks that can get the most out of Hypnotoxic Laser in every single game.
I never enjoyed this deck because I felt like 4 Switches weren’t enough mobility for me. However, now with the 5th Switch – Scramble Switch – the deck is mobile enough even for my taste. I was able to include in this list all cards that I wanted and more!
The one Enhanced Hammer tech was inspired by Jay’s former Landorus EX/Mewtwo EX list, but if I had more space, I would play even 2 Enhanced Hammers in this list. It’s that good, and will get even better in the future.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
As you may remember, I’m a constant hater of Eelektrik and have never played it in a tournament. But oh boy, this deck really hit me. It’s everything I wanted from an Eelektrik deck. As you can see, I’ve replaced the normal starters – Emolgas – with Victini EX and quickly this deck becomes a beast to watch out for. It sets up T2 180 every single time you open with a Victini EX, and even the fastest Darkrai EX variants will have a tough time dealing with it.
The only deck that gives this deck a huge trouble is the Landorus EX variants. However, not to worry. If Landorus EX seems to be the dominating deck in your metagame, just make a few fixes to the deck.
Victini EX quickly becomes your main attacker and to be honest, Landorus EX variants don’t really have a decent answer against energyless Victini EX. Even for Mewtwo EX it becomes difficult to OHKO the Victini EX. While they struggle the first few turns with your 100 damage-dealing Victini EX, you have the time to build a proper setup. So cool!
After taking a look at the updates of the old decks, it’s time for my personal favorite – the new deck concepts that came from the Plasma Storm. I tried to keep this part smaller than usual, because I only wanted to introduce the decks that can really be considered competitive and left others out like my Gardevoir/Gallade variant (two Stage 2 Pokémon in this format = Tier 3 at best).
Anyways, first let’s take a look at my version of Speed Darkrai EX.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 41
Energy – 11
Pokemon ParadijsI was afraid that many other UG writers would cover this concept as my article is somewhat “late” to the party, but I was glad to see that Andrew was the only one who discussed this deck in his article, and his point of view was very different from mine.
This deck wants to go first, and I even found space for a couple First Tickets in the list! I also tried to maximize the odds of burning through your deck. This happens with cards such as Energy Search, 4 Random Receivers, etc. The deck is just raw speed all the way from its energy acceleration to its Supporters.
If you want to get the T1 Darkrai EX – you’ll need to hit that Juniper, or just lucksack with Ethers. Also, as you want to make the deck as fast as possible, you probably want to run Computer Search instead of Scramble Switch.
Granted, Scramble Switch may give you some T1s as well, but given that the deck already runs 3 Energy Switches, I have noticed that Computer Search is a lot better – if you happen to draw it the first turn.
The reason why I enjoy this deck, is that unlike most speed decks, it requires skill to play with your hand, and since you don’t have Smeargles any more getting you 3 Junipers T1, you need to plan your every single move on your first turn very carefully.
Your first turn is your most important turn of the game, and if you miss the T1, you can very often blame yourself for making the wrong decisions.
To be honest, I was going to put here an updated version of Accelgor/Garbodor, but as Andy already showcased his version of the deck, I don’t really think there is any point of showing another version of the deck, which is a very marginal.
I wanted to keep the deck below as a “secret” for the upcoming months, because I thought that I would like to play it in my Nationals, but I soon realized that the concept wasn’t as unique as I thought and that it doesn’t really hurt me if I release it in the Underground.
So, let me introduce to you, Hammertime 2.0!
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 36
Energy – 10
Pokemon ParadijsFirst, I must note there isn’t any free space in this deck. Playing Hammers AND Tools in the same deck takes its toll, and it was very difficult to come up with a proper deck list. However, in the end, I got the deck working and this is my current build.
Second, Sableye is the best card in the format. This deck is all about Hammerspam and without Sableye it couldn’t do it and many other things. Its only goal is to Hammerspam (and Biosmog) your opponent to death.
This happens with the traditional way of Sableye + Junk Hunt, but now we have the other Garbodor to Poison your opponent’s active Pokémon at the same time you are Hammerspamming.
Discarding energy at the same time when your opponent loses HP? I’ll take that any day. Also, if you happen to flip heads with Garbodor’s Biosmog, it will also discard energy cards from your opponent’s Pokémon!
Ever since I started play-testing with the deck, most people don’t even want to play against me, because it’s so frustrating to play against. I seem to be good in creating decks that are frustrating…
Darkrai EX is in the deck to give the free retreat, but hold up. Using an Ability for free retreat, when your strategy is to lock abilities with Garbotoxin? How is that possible? Well, you may have noticed 2 weird cards for a Garbodor deck – Tool Scrappers.
Tool Scrapper can discard a Pokémon Tool card from your OWN Pokémon as well, so with the help of Junk Hunt, you will, at any time, be able to get rid of Garbotoxin and give your Pokémon free retreat and then attach another Tool to your Garbodor in the same turn. Then just take the cards back with Junk Hunt. Genius, even if I do say so myself.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 31
Energy – 14
Pokemon ParadijsI said I wouldn’t be discussing Gardevoir/Gallade, but I didn’t mention anything about Gallade without Gardevoir! The card is VERY interesting and, so far, this list has worked me the best of my Gallade creations (and why wouldn’t it – Sableye is the best card in the format).
I also tried a similar variant of Gallade combined with Ho-oh EX variant, but surprisingly the biggest problem with the deck was the lack of space. You aren’t able to fit Ho-Oh EX and Gallade into a 60 card deck and make it work.
Anyways, the concept of this deck is pretty easy to understand. Just set up your Pokémon with the help of Sableye and Dark Patches and you’ll quickly have a lots of energy on your field.
The most important thing when playing with this deck is distribute the energy evenly too all of your Pokémon. If you give too many energy to any of your Pokémon, your opponent can just Catcher and KO the Pokémon.
The concept really surprised me, because it worked in practice as well. Sometimes getting the Darkness Energy from your deck can become a problem, but I suggest that if you run into energy issues, try Energy Search. It is Junk Hunt-able and will always find you energy.
After all, you need 10 energy to OHKO a Darkrai EX, so you must really get all the energy accelerated quickly.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 36
Energy – 13
Pokemon ParadijsAs soon as I dropped out of the ECC, I started working on this deck. It’s probably the funnest concept which I was able to create from Plasma Storm. It’s madly consistent and, at the same time, it’s quick. In a way, it resembles the Sableye/Gallade deck.
Manaphy obviously works as your starter and once again your aim is to get energy to discard pile in the first turn. That’s why I once again run 4 Random Receivers and 4 Junipers, Computer Search, 4 Ultra Balls etc. You desperately want 3 Water energy to your discard pile in T1.
After that, you should have Keldeo EX and Victini on your bench when you attack with Manaphy and start accelerating your energy.
The idea of this deck differs from most decks out there. Usually decks concentrate on hitting heavy damage on their attackers, but as you’ll notice, the deck runs 4 Catchers and 2 Escape Ropes. The fact is that with this deck it’s almost impossible to attach 7 energy to one Keldeo EX, so you should concentrate on getting easy Prizes and as fast as possible.
Of course, sometimes you’re forced to start a Prize war against big EX attackers, but with the help of Energy Switches, Mewtwo EX, and Poison you are able to challenge even the strongest attackers out there. Of course the Water typing helps you as well.
What I think is very interesting about this deck is that it works well with the EtherDex engine combined with Lunatone as well. Lunatone can only be played in decks that either have Darkrai EX or hit with Keldeo EX. When you combine this concept with Ether and Lunatone, you can get the much needed mid and late game energy acceleration you may miss in some games.
If you get interested in this concept, there is one thing I want to especially mention – don’t be afraid of teching things into this deck. This is probably one of the most linear decks of the format and for example Terrakion NVI could be a superb tech in this deck.
Just imagine the potential of Terrakion when your opponent’s Darkrai EX KOs your Manaphy. At that point, you probably already have all the cards necessary for Retaliate thanks to Manaphy’s Ability and you can revenge your Manaphy the next turn.
Also, Scramble Switch is a very interesting card for this deck as well and the only reason for me playing Computer Search is that I always want to make the first list as straightforward and working as possible and then concentrate on tweaking in the techs, which will always decrease the consistency of the deck.
I love this deck’s concept and am 100% sure that I’ll try it out in a tournament as soon as I have scouted the metagame properly.
Woohoo, I did it! An article that is under 7,000 words! Anyways, as you can see, Plasma Storm has a lot of potential when it comes to new decks, and I was surprised about how many interesting cards it had.
What I’m very glad about is that I was able to introduce you to many decks haven’t been discussed yet and I believe are going to be BIG in the upcoming States Championships. When I noticed that my article would be so late after the release of Plasma Storm, I really feared that I wouldn’t be able to offer you anything new.
I won’t have another article before the U.S. States begin, so I hope the lists I introduced will help you when testing and deciding your deck for the States Championships! Of course, I’ll discuss the upcoming metagame of the States Championships on my blog as well, so don’t forget to follow it. Also, feel free to comment on anything or ask anything in the forums, because last time I wrote an article, I was unfortunately unable to discuss with you since I was in Japan.
And don’t forget to +1 or -1 the article, so I’ll know what you thought about the article even if you don’t leave a comment!
Thanks for reading!
– Esa Juntunen
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