The Plasma Engine and Lugia Love

pokemon12_07 ashy misty brockpokemon.theirstar.comIt’s amazing to think that we are already heading into the final stretch of the Pokémon season. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were figuring out the very beginnings of the Black and White on format.

The format has definitely changed drastically over the course of the season. Back in the Fall, Hydreigon/Darkrai, Darkrai/Terrakion, and Rayquaza/Eelektrik were the major decks. Then we got Boundaries Crossed and Big Basic decks became a permanent fixture of the metagame and Blastoise/Keldeo-EX was introduced to the format.

With the release of Plasma Storm, Darkrai and Big Basic decks evolved to include Hypnotoxic Laser, Hydreigon fell to the wayside, and Garbodor and Klinklang decks became hard counters to the main meta decks.

Now we are quickly approaching the release of the final set of the season, Plasma Freeze. Plasma Storm introduced us to some preliminary Team Plasma decks and mechanics of the Team Plasma system, but Plasma Freeze will take it a step further by bringing us more of the Team Plasma engine as well as a plethora of strong Team Plasma Pokémon.

In this article, I am going to cover the deck I would have played at States and Regionals then will discuss the Team Plasma engine as it stands after the release of Plasma Freeze, as well as introduce my Plasma Basics list and some of the other key cards to be released in the new set.

Table of Contents

The Deck I Would Have Played

Unfortunately I was unable to attend any of the State Championship or Regional Championship tournaments, so I never got to play this, but this was the deck I ended up settling on as being the best play in the format.

The strategy of the deck is simple, you setup knockouts for Lugia EX with Landorus-EX’s Hammerhead attack, as well as Hypnotoxic Laser in the early game. You then aim at Knocking Out two Pokémon-EX in two turns with Lugia EX to swiftly end the game.

I ended up coming up with two different lists for the deck, one was a straight consistency build and the other was teched out to deal with Plasma Klinklang.

Pokémon – 7

4 Landorus-EX

2 Lugia-EX

1 Bouffalant DRX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper

4 Skyla

3 N

2 Bianca


4 Colress Machine

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Switch

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Ultra Ball

2 Max Potion

1 Energy Search

1 Scramble Switch


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 16

8 F

4 Plasma

4 Double Colorless

The other list for the deck, which is probably the version I would have played as I expected Klinklang to be well represented by good players is a version teched to be able to beat that deck as well.

Pokémon – 10

3 Landorus-EX

2 Lugia-EX

1 Bouffalant DRX

2 Vulpix DRX

2 Ninetales DRX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper

4 Skyla

3 N

2 Bianca


4 Colress Machine

4 Switch

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Ultra Ball

1 Energy Search

1 Super Rod

1 Scramble Switch


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 15

6 F

4 Plasma

3 Double Colorless

2 R

Card Explanations

2 Lugia EX

lugia ex plasma stormpokechampion.tumblr.comThe biggest thing that I have found with this deck is that a Lugia EX can be powered up out of nowhere very quickly. I have had games in which I powered up a Lugia EX on the first turn of the game, as well as times where I was able to Juniper into everything I need to get a Lugia EX powered up.

4 Skyla

The Supporter lineup may seem a little strange for this deck, but this is what I arrived at after a lot of tweaking and playing. I strongly believe 4 Skyla is the best play, as it allows you to search out the missing piece to get the turn one Landorus-EX attack going, which is crucial to getting the ball rolling for the rest of the game.

4 Professor Juniper

As the deck wants to hit a lot of difference resources in one turn to get the Lugia EX going out of nowhere, playing 4 Professor Juniper is a no brainer in this deck, as it lets you draw the most cards consistently.

2 Bianca

Using this same logic, I originally started with 2 Colress in the list as it has the potential for huge draws as well, but ultimately cut back on those and replaced them with Bianca as I found the deck having issues benching enough Pokémon consistently to get good use out of Colress.

3 N

Lastly, I played 3 N in the deck. This deck is all about carefully planning ahead your turns with damage placements to setup knockouts for Lugia EX a little later in the game, as well as to create contingency plans in case your opponent plays any healing cards.

As a result, a lot of games can come down to the wire with the deck, where it’s just a matter of getting a Lugia EX going, and keeping your opponent out of the resources they need to knock the thing out before you can take a bunch of knockouts with it.

When playing with this deck, I’ve very rarely ever have been able to just ram through my opponent’s field with just Landorus-EX and the Hypnotoxic Lasers, nor have I wanted to, Lugia EX has always been key to me winning games with the deck, so I have designed the deck to accomodate setting up Lugia EX as much as possible.

4 Plasma Energy, 4 Colress Machine

plasma-energy-plasma-storm-pls-127pokemon-paradijs.comI play 4 Plasma Energy/4 Colress Machine to accelerate Energy onto Lugia EX. As I said before, Colress Machine is the most consistent Item based Energy acceleration that we have in the game right now.

All it takes is just two Colress machine and a Double Colorless Energy to get Lugia EX setup in one turn, which really isn’t that crazy of a combination when you’re playing 4 DCE as well (and 3 in the version teched for Klinklang).

1 Scramble Switch

Furthermore, I chose Scramble Switch as my ACE SPEC of choice, and could not imagine playing the deck without it. There are just way too many great moves to be made with the card not to play it in the deck. It helps accommodate setting up Lugia EX in one turn with residual Energy, setting up Bouffalant is especially easy with it, and you can even do some tricks with getting back to back Land’s Judgment’s for 150 (180 with Hypnotoxic Laser) with the card as well.

1 Bouffalant DRX

Bouffalant may be the most puzzling card to some in this deck, as it does 120 damage to EX’s, just like Lugia EX, but without the Prize gaining. I really enjoy having the card in the deck, as it’s super easy to setup with Scramble Switch (all it takes is attach DCE and Scramble Switch), and there are a lot of scenarios against decks with non-Pokémon-EX like Rayquaza/Eelektrik or Blastoise/Keldeo EX where you will take knockouts in such a way with Lugia EX and Landorus EX earlier in the game, that it leaves you with just 2 Prize cards left, at which point Bouffalant does just as well of a job as Lugia EX at finishing up these Pokémon-EX for those final Prizes.

The Team Plasma Engine

In short, the Team Plasma engine is simply the set of Trainer cards specifically designed to work with Team Plasma Pokémon that allow for some unique deck building that isn’t available to other decks that are not running Team Plasma Pokémon. The release of new Trainer cards in Plasma Freeze will help bring Team Plasma decks into the forefront of the new metagame.

While we have a lot of different Team Plasma Trainer cards, most of them are not really all that important to operating a Team Plasma deck, and as a result only a key subset of these cards is actually important into building Team Plasma decks.

colress machine plasma storm pls 119The single most important card to the engine is Colress Machine, which lets you search your deck for a Plasma Energy and attach it to one of your Team Plasma Pokémon. This gives Plasma decks a form of specific Energy acceleration for their Pokémon, and since the card searches the deck, it is much more efficient than the other Item based Energy acceleration in the early game.

The aforementioned Plasma Energy is also very important to the engine. Plasma Energy only counts for C Energy, but it is important too Plasma decks because many of the Team Plasma Pokémon’s attacks are altered based on whether or not they have the Plasma Energy attached.

In Plasma Freeze we will be receiving specific search for Plasma decks with Team Plasma’s Poké Ball, which simply allows you to search your deck for a Team Plasma Pokémon with no other hassle. The card will obviously be a natural fit in most Plasma Basic decks as it can search for your Pokémon with no drawbacks.

The only major downside to this card is that it might not be the greatest search in evolution decks. For whatever reason they didn’t make the pre-evolutions of Pokémon as Team Plasma Pokémon, so you cannot search out the pre-evolutions, weakening the card for those decks.

The other two major cards to Team Plasma decks are the Stadium cards they have at their disposal. Plasma Frigate removes Weakness from your Pokémon with Plasma Energy attached. This Stadium isn’t too big of a factor as we do still play in a format with a lot of 1HKOs that happen regardless of Weakness, but it is an option which can help for getting rid of Weakness if a popular deck happens to hit yours for weakness.

With Plasma Freeze we will also be receiving Frozen City, which says to put two damage counters every time either player attaches an Energy from his or her hand to a non-Team Plasma Pokémon card. This should be a solid way of adding damage to the opponent’s field and be fairly disruptive to decks built on mass Energy acceleration like Blastoise.

Outside of that, there are a variety of Team Plasma Supporters, as well as Item cards like Hypnotoxic Laser, but these aren’t really core parts of the Plasma engine, and are more used for their general goodness in a deck. These cards definitely can be part of a Team Plasma engine with the new Metagross that searches out Team Plasma cards, but I don’t expect setting up a Stage 2 to search for this stuff to be a very effective strategy.

deoxys-ex-plasma-freeze-plf-53Lastly, the other major thing is the support Pokémon that Team Plasma Pokémon are now gaining. The big one is Deoxys EX, which adds 10 damage to your Plasma Pokémon’s attacks. There is also a new Umbreon which adds 20 HP to all of your Team Plasma Pokémon.

With all of these various weapons tailored specifically for Plasma Pokémon, they are primed to become some of the better decks in the format as there is a very good base from which to build a deck.

Lastly, we will also be getting Team Plasma Badge, which is a Pokémon Tool card that turns any Pokémon into a Team Plasma Pokémon, which opens up the different possibilities of Pokémon you can accelerate with Colress Machine. This opens up a lot of room for stuff like Mewtwo EX, Tornadus EX, or Registeel-EX that run off of C Energy from being teamed up with the Plasma Engine.

Plasma Basics

The most hyped deck coming out of the new set is the Plasma Basics deck, featuring Thundurus EX, Deoxys-EX, Lugia EX, and Snorlax PLS. The basic strategy of the deck is to accelerate Energy onto your field using Thundurus EX’s Raiden Knuckle attack in combination with Deoxys-EX’s Power Connect Ability, as well as Hypnotoxic Lasers to setup 1HKOs for Lugia EX a little later in the game.

The deck hits hard fast with Thundurus EX’s one energy attack, and it can hit pretty hard with Deoxys-EX and Hypnotoxic Laser. The deck has a big swinger with Snorlax, which can do up to 180 damage, and with Lugia EX it has an easy way to get ahead in the Prize race with Overflow.

Here is my most current list for the new Plasma Basics deck:

Pokémon – 11

4 Thundurus-EX PLF

3 Deoxys-EX

2 Lugia-EX

1 Snorlax PLS

1 Kyurem PLF


Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Bianca

2 Colress


4 Colress Machine

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Ultra Ball

3 Switch

1 Scramble Switch


2 Virbank City Gym

1 Frozen City

Energy – 14

4 Prism

4 Plasma

3 Blend WLFM

3 Double Colorless

blend-energy-wlfm-dragons-exalted-drx-118pokemon-paradijs.comThe biggest thing I think to get right with this deck is just playing enough Energy to operate on all levels of your strategy. The main thing the deck wants to do on turn one of the game is to use Raiden Knuckle with Thundurus EX to start accelerating Energy onto your other Pokémon.

In order to do this, you must get a L Energy (so the Prism and Blends) onto Thundurus EX on the first turn to make sure that you can actually use the attack. I have 7 Energy that fit this requirement, which is just enough to get off a turn one Raiden Knuckle in most games.

Deoxys-EX is nice to power up Raiden Knuckle further. With one Deoxys-EX in play, you can knockout 70 HP basics like Sableye if you hit into Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym.

Lugia EX is of course still in the deck as Prize gaining is very strong. This version of the deck trades in the spreading of damage that Landorus-EX provides in exchange for the Energy acceleration that Thundurus EX provides. As a result of this, with this version, it is much more difficult to setup multiple knockouts for your Lugia EX, but it is also much easier to power up your Lugia EX’s than it is in the Landorus-EX version of the deck.

Snorlax is just kind of there right now as a tentative Klinklang counter, as it does enough damage to 1HKO Cobalion-EX, Registeel-EX, as well as just taking out their Klinklang, while not being 1HKO’d in response. It is generally just a strong sweeper card, as it can hit for 180+ damage if you have a full bench and Deoxys-EX in play.

The new Kyurem from Plasma Freeze is going to be a really good play in this deck as well I think. Its first attack costs WC, and is the same thing as Hammerhead, and its second attack Blizzard Burn does 120 damage for WWC. The reason for the inclusion of this card is that the deck needs a hard counter to Landorus-EX, and this provides a perfect one as it is able to easily 1HKO a Landorus-EX.

As far as other notable features about my list for this deck, I think playing one Frozen City will be a strong play in this deck. You play only Team Plasma Pokémon, so it is never going to hurt you.

I think Virbank City Gym as the primary Stadium is better than just going all out with Frozen City, because it is proactive rather than reactive, but there will be points in the game where you run out of Hypnotoxic Lasers at which point being able to play down a Frozen City to start adding more and more damage onto your opponent’s side of the field will be very strong.

Lugia is Legit?

Headed into the release of Plasma Storm, Lugia EX was one of the most hyped cards before the sets release as its price soared to well over $50 for the full art version of the card. Then came State Championships and Regional Championships, and it seemed that not many people were playing Lugia EX.

lugia pokemon silver

I personally think that Lugia EX is one of the best cards in the game. Being able to take 2 Prizes on non-EX’s and 3 Prizes from an EX is insanely strong. I am not sure which will ultimately be better out of the two Lugia variants I posted above, but these are the two main decks that I am going to be testing extensively during Battle Roads headed into the National Championship.

I think one of the reasons that Lugia EX didn’t see too much play during States and Regional Championships is just because of the complexity that comes from playing the card. It seems pretty simple, just take two knockouts on two EX’s and you win the game with Lugia EX, but in testing it has proved that it is never quite that simple with Lugia EX.

There is just so much going on with Lugia EX, which can make a deck featuring him be very difficult to play. You have to always be planning ahead, and mapping out different strategies that you can pursue throughout the game to get to your end goal.

You need to not only setup damage so Lugia EX can take the knockout from damage, but also come up with contingency plans for what happens when you whiff the Pokémon Catcher, or your opponent plays a Max Potion.

For example, a game against Rayquaza/Eelektrik could be as simple as using Plasma Gale on two different Rayquaza EX’s for all six of your Prizes. Then another game might be won by taking 2 Prizes on Tynamos with Hammerhead, two more Prizes on an Eelektrik with Plasma Gale, and then your final 2 Prizes on a Rayquaza EX with Gold Breaker.

To successfully play Lugia EX, you have to be able to see all of these different pathways to victory if you would ultimately like to be successful with the deck. So with that said, if you are planning on playing a Lugia EX deck in the upcoming format, I highly recommend spending a lot of time testing to make sure you are beginning to see the alternative pathways to victory when roadblocks come your way, because when you have a Prize gaining Ability like Overflow, there becomes a lot of different avenues that one can take to find their way to victory.

Noteworthy from Plasma Freeze

That’s it as far as decks that I have to discuss for today, however, there are a few different cards that I want to give recognition to from Plasma Freeze that are either controversial or good that deserve mention.


ghetsis-plasma-freeze-plf-101Perhaps the most polarizing card from the new set and part of a lot of discussion within the community is Ghetsis. Ghetsis allows you to look at your opponent’s hand and then shuffle all Item cards back into your opponent’s deck, and then draw a card for each Item that you send back in.

This card at first appearance seems highly disruptive and very broken, but after playing around with it a little bit, a clearer picture of what the card actually does should form for you.

Back at the beginning of last fomat when the set list was still speculative and there was some thought as to whether Ghetsis might be in Plasma Storm, I had been testing out Watchlock, which is a deck that took 3rd place in a Japanese Battle Carnival.

The deck’s basic aim is to make your opponent do nothing for most of the game by removing their Energy with Hammers, their hand with Amoonguss from Plasma Storm’s Astonish attack after using Ghetsis for your Supporter for the turn, and then using Watchdog’s Watcheck attack to control what your opponent top decks, to try to ensure that they get nothing of use.

In testing this deck against some of the current decks of the time, one thing became painfully clear, Ghetsis was a really, really bad card. I was pretty shocked by this discovery because of how broken it is on the surface, but then when I broke down the mathematics behind it, I gained the clear picture as to why this card wasn’t very good.

The Math

Here is a breakdown of the Item counts in a few different decks (using my lists for Landorus/Lugia and Plasma Basics, and Jay’s lists from Tuesday for Darkrai and Blastoise).

  • Blastoise – 18 Items
  • Plasma Basics – 19 Items
  • Landorus/Lugia – 22 Items
  • Darkrai – 23 Items

So what does this equate to as expected Items in hand of x? For a 3-card hand: 0.9-1.15. For a 5-card hand: 1.5-1.92. And for a 7-card hand: 2.1-2.68 Items. (The ranges are for the low in Blastoise to the high in Darkrai.)

Just based on expected distribution of cards in your hands, you’re looking at anywhere from 1-3 Items being in your opponent’s hand at any given time, and this is ignoring that your opponent will be able to play Items down purposefully to prevent a strong Ghetsis, which will further skew down the numbers.

What I found in playing against Ghetsis is that sometimes the card was minorly disruptive, but sometimes it would be good if I was Ghetsis’d myself as it conserved my resources from being lost to a Professor Juniper.

What really breaks Ghetsis is how the card destroys your own consistency. If you’re playing Ghetsis for four of your Supporter cards, and you’re getting an average draw of 1-2 cards off of that you aren’t going to be able to get setup too often yourself, even if you are minorly disrupting your opponent.


The two ACE SPECs from this upcoming set do not really wow me at all. The first, Rock Guard, does 60 damage to your opponent’s Active Pokémon if your Active is damaged by an attack. Life Droplets prevents your opponent from taking any Prize cards when they Knock Out the Pokémon that is attached to.

Both of these are pretty cool effects, but they seem underwhelming compared to the other ACE SPEC options available to us, and they can very easily be countered by using a simple Tool Scrapper.

Float Stone

float-stone-thunder-knuckle-bw8-48pokeca-japan.ocnk.bizI expect players to find some very creative uses for this card. The card is a Tool that gives the Pokémon it’s attached to free retreat. The most obvious partner for this card is going to be Keldeo-EX, as you can Rush In with Keldeo-EX and then retreat to whatever Pokémon you like.

I think this combination could end up being fairly widely played, even in decks outside of Blastoise. The deck basically gives every deck that you pack it into the equivalent Ability of a Darkrai deck, but it might be even better, as you don’t have to use an Energy attachment to get it going, and it can be played universally in every deck, as you won’t need to be playing an D Energy to make it work.

But I think outside of the Keldeo-EX combination, most players will just stick with Switch when it comes to moving around their Pokémon, especially with Hypnotoxic Laser being so prevalent.

Mr. Mime

Mr. Mime has an Ability that prevents damage to your Benched Pokémon from attacks. It has the potential to be a nice 1-of in a lot of decks to prevent snipe damage from Darkrai EX, Landorus-EX, and the new Kyurem from Plasma Freeze. I’m not sure how much play it will see, but if these snipe attackers remain popular, I think Mr. Mime will start being put into decks to offset the bench damage.


ash watching tv
Eager to get back at it!

I absolutely can’t wait for Plasma Freeze to be released. Familial and work obligations prevented me in playing in any tournaments over the last stretch, but I am definitely going to be able to play in Battle Roads almost every weekend, and then of course in the National Championships. I can’t wait to compete in an actual tournament setting again, it’s been far too long.

In this article, I really just wanted to focus on more of the Plasma Basics and Lugia EX decks, as that is what I have had the most experience testing as far as the new format goes. Outside of these decks, I fully expect Darkrai EX, as well as Blastoise with the addition of Super Energy Retrieval to be the top decks of the format.

As far as SixPrizes dice go, I have given out two of them at the State Championship I was able to attend (but not attend early enough to play in the main event). I will be giving out the remaining two to whoever can beat me during Battle Roads, so if you’re swinging by the St. Louis area for Battle Roads, there will be more dice up for grabs.

Lastly, remember to +1 or -1 the article to give Adam feedback on the Underground articles so we can know what you guys like and what we need to work on with our articles. Thanks again for the opportunity, and I hope you all found this helpful.

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