On Playing Plasma – Building a List and Mastering Its Matchups

Go toward the light, not away from it!

It’s getting to be that time of year again. We’ve survived another long season of Pokémon, with States and Regionals seeming to be in the distant past. Many of you either just finished up with school and finals, or find yourself on the home stretch with the light at the end of the tunnel clearly visible. Either way, I’m sure you’re like me and are looking forward to let loose at Spring Battle Roads and Nationals.

The ultimate goal of any Pokémon player is to earn the highly coveted Worlds Invitation. At this point in the year players fall into one of three categories: either they already have the invite, they are extremely close to the invite and need good showings at Battle Roads and/or Nationals, or lastly they are nowhere near the invite and are looking at Nationals as their Hail Mary play.

Regardless of where you’re sitting personally, it’s my goal to make you feel confident and prepared heading into Battle Roads and in turn Nationals. Battle Roads and Nationals are obviously very different tournaments, so I prepare for them very differently. While in this article I plan on discussing both, I will focus far more on Battle Roads.

While I’d love to jump right into Nationals talk now, the truth is a lot happens with the meta and lists between now Nationals, so it’s nearly impossible for me to give advice on what the right play is or exactly how your list should look.

This entire article is almost going to be completely devoted to discussing the new Team Plasma deck. I’m going to walk you through building the deck from the ground up, discuss all of its different options, and conclude with an in-depth look at the deck’s key matchups. I feel confident in saying that the deck is going to be as dominant at Nationals and Worlds as Darkrai EX was last year.

I know a lot of the other writers also decided to tackle Team Plasma, but the deck is simply going to be so big and there are so many ways to go about the deck that I simply don’t think there will be such a thing as “too much” Team Plasma discussion leading up to Nationals.

The Return of SP?

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Fond memories.

When I first saw all of the translations for the Team Plasma Pokémon and their support my thoughts instantly flashed back to Pokémon SP. I was very happy (though I didn’t hold out high hopes) that the game might be returning to a similar format.

For those of you who started playing after the SP reign, basically the format heavily revolved around the all-Basic Pokémon SP and their numerous support cards. Some players really hated SP as the SP decks had such a dominant stranglehold on the format. Others (myself included) loved the format, as it was extremely skill based and led to some extremely exciting games.

After only playing a few games I was extremely excited with just how much Plasma does feel like SP, and how thought provoking the mirror match can be (which I never thought I’d be saying again anytime soon). We’re not quite to the point SP mirror was, mainly due to the lack of Power Spray. However, after months of playing mundane games of Pokémon with very little actual thought processes involved, it feels amazing to sit down and play with a deck that has numerous options at its fingertips and complex interactions with opposing decks.

Likewise, once again to my pleasant surprise, building a Team Plasma deck is considerably harder than I thought it would be. My initial list ran me right around 66 cards and I still hadn’t fit in everything I wanted. While I find this very frustrating, it’s also the thing that I enjoy the most as a deck builder.

With so many different options and different routes to take we’re going to see widely different Plasma builds. I wouldn’t find it surprising at all to see builds that are 10-15 cards different than each other. I really don’t think we’ll see right and wrong ways to build the deck either, even among top players I expect to see a lot of differences in card choices.

This is simply going to create some amazing interactions, especially in mirror matches, which is going to make games very exciting to play and also watch. There are going to be a lot of questions and trying to figure out the opponent’s counts. “Does he play Max Potions? If he does, how many? 1? 2? 3? 4? Well, he played 4 copies of card X so maybe he only had room for 2 Max Potion, but then again he played 3 copies of card Y, so maybe he only had room for 1 or none, etc.”

I expect thought processes like this to very common, especially in high level games like those at Nationals.

Building a Team Plasma Deck

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At this point I’ve certainly done enough talking and hyping of Team Plasma, and hopefully I’ve won you over or at the very least made you understand just how big of a threat this deck is going to be. Regardless of which side you fall on (pro or anti Team Plasma), it’s going to be important to have a good concept on how lists look, their different options, and how the deck plays.

In this next section I’m going to break down my list by Pokémon, Trainers, and Energy and also discuss how I arrived at each of my individual card counts. I’m also going to discuss some popular cards that I’ve excluded and why I feel they don’t make the cut despite being incredibly widespread among other players.

I don’t have any tournament results to back myself up (not that a couple of Battle Road performances should swing your opinion regardless), but I do have some well thought out points that will hopefully translate to some good discussion in the forums.

Preamble on the Pokémon

The way deck building is done today the Pokémon and Energy lines are as thin as possible to make the most room available to Trainers as possible. After all it really is your Trainer lineup that will win or lose you games. All year I’ve played very thin Pokémon lines, and in my Basic oriented decks usually I played about 8-9 in Darkrai and 7-9 in Big Basics.

The deck has so many tech options I wanted to include, but the list is of course very tight. I’ve decided the optimal number of Pokémon to run is most likely 10. I feel 4 Deoxys-EX and 3 Thundurus EX are staples, but with the last 3 spots there is some flexibility to work with.

Pokémon – 10

4 Deoxys-EX
3 Thundurus EX
1 Tornadus-EX PLF
1 Lugia EX
1 Kyurem PLF

4 Deoxys-EX

The optimal number of Deoxys-EX to have in play is going to be 3 due to a whole host of positive math situations that this figure provides:

  • 120 damage (Lugia, Kyurem, or Tornadus) + 30 damage (3 Deoxys) + 30 damage (Laser/Virbank) deals 180 damage, which 1HKOs most EXs in the format.
  • 30 damage (Thundurus) + 30 damage (3 Deoxys) + 30 damage (Laser/Virbank) nets 90 damage to 1HKO Eels, Electrodes, 2HKO EXs, etc.
  • 30 damage (Thundurus) + 30 damage (3 Deoxys) + 10 damage (Laser with no Virbank) equals 70 damage which 1HKOs Sableye.

These are all relatively common scenarios that you’ll find yourself in, although the first one, being able to 1HKO EXs, is the most practical and strongest argument for the necessity of having 3 Deoxys-EX in play.

While the 4th will generally never hit the field, playing it does increase your odds of drawing into a Deoxys, getting 3 into play, and gives you flexibility if one is Prized or Knocked Out.

I realize the card is expensive and hard to get ahold of right now, so if you don’t have a 4th or simply don’t want to run 4 I think it’s imperative that you run a copy of Shadow Triad to get it back incase one is Knocked Out. Shadow Triad is very useful in other situations as well and is an all around good utility card for Plasma decks.

3 Thundurus EX

If only they gave Thundurus a conical hat.

I would love to run a 4th copy of Thundurus EX, but I play 3 due to lack of room. It reminds of the 3 vs. 4 debate that Darkrai decks face with Sableye. You would really like to run the 4th copy for the increased odds of starting with it, but it’s not needed.

Thundurus EX seems like it would be a main attacker in the deck, but in actuality it’s more of a means to an end in powering up your other attackers. That’s not to say the card isn’t essential to the deck, more that it takes the role of support Pokémon just as often as it takes the role of main attacker.

I suppose you could get by with only playing 2 copies because realistically that’s all you would ever need over the course of the game. However, you would find yourself in serious trouble if you Prized a copy. Playing 2 copies would also make Thundurus noticeably harder to open with or get into the Active Spot early. I feel heading into this format that having a big T1 is going to be huge in deciding the outcome of games and that’s exactly what Thundurus is used for.

1 Lugia EX

This is card where I feel players read it and go “oh that’s really good” and instantly slap 2 or 3 copies in their deck. I see Lugia EX more as an option rather than a main strategy. It’s an option I find myself going to quite a lot in games, but I never really find myself saying “I’m just going straight Lugia EX this game.”

It’s considerably harder to power up multiple Lugia EX in one game than it seems on paper. Getting the first one out and swinging isn’t too hard, but I usually use a lot of resources to do so (Colress Machines and DCEs) and it’s extremely hard to get it again later in the game with diminished resources and smaller hand sizes due to N.

If you want to have access to multiple Lugia EX over the course of a game then I would strongly looking at something like Shadow Triad. It would let you get Lugia EX back in situations where you want it, but at the same time it’s more flexible than playing a higher Lugia EX count.

All of this being said though, I would be shocked if a handful of players didn’t build their Plasma decks to abuse Lugia EX and try to get away with games where they win by only KOing 2 Pokémon-EX. Despite all of my reservations about it, I do think there is some merit to this strategy and a player could be effective with this.

If this is a route that you’re looking at, then I would strongly recommended using Battle Roads to test and perfect it. It’s certainly not a deck I would show up to Nationals with, having only tested minimally. For me personally right now though I’m more interested in designing a Plasma deck like a toolbox with a handful of options at my disposal. (This always has and most likely always will be my personal play style.)

1 Tornadus-EX PLF

It’s like Chatot MD only with 120 more HP.

On paper this looks like my dark horse pick for the deck, however I really don’t think a lot of players have given it enough of a chance. Originally I put it in the deck to act as a consistency crutch. Between Tornadus EX itself, 2 Ultra Ball, and 2 Team Plasma Ball I have 5 non-Supporter outs in my opening hand. My strategy isn’t to always go for a T1 Windfall, but I feel safer knowing I have that option at my disposal.

I also like to bench the card at some point during the game so I’ll always have that late game out to N. In some cases this might actually stop my opponent from using N altogether out of fear they’ll put the game in a top decking mode and I’ll have an out while they won’t.

Now Tornadus EX is more than just a consistency card, it’s also a pretty solid attacker. It’s rare to get those broken opening hands and be swinging with Tornadus EX for 120/150, but it’s not unrealistic T2/T3. There is also a lot of synergy with Thundurus EX where you can set up a late game large Tornadus EX.

I really don’t want to oversell the card and hype it too much. It’s a solid attacker that brings another level of consistency to the deck. That being said it has a horrible Weakness (Lightning) and the format is so fast paced that sometimes you can’t waste the turn to go for a new hand. Though to be fair in the mid/late game if you’re in a situation where going for a new hand seems like the right play for the turn, you’re probably already in serious trouble and Tornadus EX might be a life saver.

Bottom line it’s a solid card and I like running a single copy of it.

1 Kyurem PLF

Kyurem’s first attack for a WC can easily be powered up for a Blend/Prism and a Colress Machine turn 1 can set up some nice plays later on in the game. The overall damage output of the first attack is pretty low, so it’s going to be the most useful in the first few turns of the game. It might not seem like a big deal, but the 30 spread can be huge later on, so you’re really going to want to think about your targets.

Kyurem’s second attack for WWC does the magic number of 120, which in combination with Deoxys-EX and Laser/Virbank can set up easy 1HKOs on large 180 HP Pokémon-EX. The downside to the attack is Kyurem can’t attack on the following turn, but it’s pretty easy to reset this with Float Stone and Switch. In the later stages of the game it can be pretty hard to get 3 Energy under Kyurem, but Scramble Switch and Thundurus EX set up a lot of plays here as well.

I find Kyurem most useful for initiating the 7 Prize card game. The best thing is it’s nearly impossible for my opponent to play around it. If I come up swinging for 120-180 with Kyurem (factoring in Deoxys along with Laser/Virbank) my opponent has to answer this threat and can’t just simply Catcher around it. If they do Catcher, then Kyurem will swing again (Catcher resets its second attack), taking another Prize or two and they will be in the exact same situation on the following turn.

All in all Kyurem is a strong tech option, albeit situational at times, but definitely worth the spot.

Which Pokémon didn’t make the cut?

Snorlax PLS

Teampact didn’t make enough of an impact.

When I first built the deck I ran 2 copies of Snorlax like just about everybody else. I played less than 3 games with the deck before realizing it’s too hard to power up. Even with Colress Machine, DCE, and Thundurus it’s really hard to get 5 Energy under a Snorlax.

In the games I did manage to get the 5 Energy under Snorlax my opponent usually had an out before I gained too much of an advantage. It’s a good card, but the investment vs. reward ratio just isn’t there for me.

Its Ability did get me to give Snorlax a second look, as it’s something I skipped over when I first started playing with the card. Basically the Ability states your opponent can’t retreat when Snorlax is Active. This is situationally good against most decks in the format, especially later in the game when they have burned through most of their copies of Switch or decks that rely to heavily on Keldeo-EX/Float Stone.

However, where I really saw potential for this was against Darkrai EX that doesn’t normally play Switch (though if Plasma and Snorlax become popular it might warrant a single copy). You’re almost never going to find yourself in a situation where you can just straight up lock a Darkrai player out of a game.

If you trap Sableye active then they’ll just Junk Hunt both Laser and Enhanced Hammer over and over again till you finally die of Poison. The only really good lock target would be Keldeo-EX, which they can just manually power up and attack you. Either way they have to devote resources to something other than Darkrai EX to deal with the Snorlax.

“Snorlax Locking” is never going to be a central strategy of a Plasma deck, but it’s an option that you have available to you. For the most part it’s pretty easy to play around, but late game you could either catch an opponent off guard with it or perhaps they will have burned so many resources that they simply can’t deal with it.

As for counts, I can say with 100% absolute certainty that 2 copies is too much. I think you could make a convincing argument to run one copy, but two is never worth the space in my opinion.

Giratina PLS

I’ve heard some hype around this card for its ability to 1HKO Deoxys-EX and Mewtwo EX. The problem is outside of these two Pokémon it’s a worse attacker Kyurem. The pros are it only needs Prism, DCE, and Laser to KO a Deoxys while Kyurem needs Prism/Blend, Prism/Blend, Energy, Laser, Virbank, and 2 Deoxys-EX.

In my opinion Giratina is too situational and while it is easier to set up than Kyurem, I would rather have the more well-rounded option in my list.

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
2 Bianca
1 Colress

4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Colress Machine
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
2 Switch
2 Team Plasma Ball
2 Ultra Ball
1 Max Potion
1 Float Stone
1 Scramble Switch

2 Virbank City Gym


I think for the most part all of my Supporters are pretty self-explanatory. Earlier this year I made the comment that I don’t like to run less than 15 Supporters/Computer Search. As you can tell with this list I run only 14 Supporters and no Computer Search.

Now, 14 Supporters does seem low for me, but I feel I can get away with it because of Tornadus EX. Between my 14 Supporters, 1 Tornadus EX, 2 Plasma Ball, and 2 Ultra Ball I have 19 outs to a new hand (nearly 1/3 of the deck). This lets me get away with being a bit riskier and playing a lower number of Supporters than I normally do.

2 Switch

Only 2 copies of Switch may seem low, but in testing it has played just fine. The deck also runs Float Stone and Scramble Switch to help get a Pokémon out of the Active Spot, so in total you do have 4 pseudo-Switch options. I would really like a 5th “switching” card though, and I’d consider playing a 2nd Float Stone ahead of a 3rd Switch.

2 Team Plasma Ball, 2 Ultra Ball

Four spots for Pokémon search.

I went with a 2-2 split, with the thinking being that the 2 Ultra Ball give me a total of 6 outs (2 Ultra Ball and 4 Juniper) for discarding cards that can help me get Energy in the discard pile early for Thundurus EX. Basically, I devoted 4 spots to Pokémon search and you could make an argument for just about any combination of Plasma Ball and/or Ultra Ball.

Now, in Michael Diaz’s last article he took a very interesting approach to the deck and ran much higher combined totals of Plasma Ball and Ultra Ball. He ran totals of 7 and 8 in the 3 different Plasma lists he discussed. The 7 Pokémon search cards allow him to easily get Deoxys-EX into play.

The problem I have with running 7 is you’re devoting a lot of room to Pokémon search when that space could be used for other forms of consistency (like Supporters) and in the mid and late game they are dead cards. Even at only 4 I notice Pokémon search being dead in the mid and late game. Once I get my Pokémon into play I simply don’t need the Balls anymore.

It’s a tough balancing act, but I just feel 4 gets the job done without taking too much away from other areas in the deck.

1 Max Potion

This is one of our tech options, which is very easily searched out with Skyla. The card is a bit more situational in Plasma than in a similar Basic oriented deck like Big Basics as you can’t always afford to discard the Energy on your attacker. This is why I didn’t go with the high count of 3 or 4 that you sometimes see in Big Basics.

The 1-of can be a lifesaver in certain matchups, the biggest of course being Darkrai.

1 Float Stone

My 61st card right now is a second Float Stone, which would also give me a 5th switching card. It’s easily searched out by Skyla, and with the exception of being Asleep or Paralyzed it’s better than Switch. You can also set up plays with Float Stone and Switch to reset Kyurem’s second attack. This is a lot easier than playing either 2 Switch or playing a Switch and wasting an Energy to retreat.

It also allows the deck to have a free retreater to bring up after a Pokémon is Knocked Out. This might seem minor, but in testing it’s something small that’s really nice to have. I expect to see a drop off in play of Tool Scrapper as it does very little against the top decks in the format right now, so the odds are your Float Stone won’t be going anywhere.

1 Scramble Switch

As you can see I went with Scramble Switch as my ACE SPEC for the deck. Mainly it gives the deck the ability to set up big plays, especially T2 with Thundurus EX. The deck also plays a large array of attackers, so Scramble Switch allows me more flexibility to abuse type matching. I can see arguments being made for both Computer Search and Dowsing Machine, but the deck just abuses Scramble Switch so well it’s the strongest ACE SPEC option.

Explaining the Energy

This is the first deck I’ve played in a long time where I had to put a significant amount of thought into the Energy lineup. I could ramble on for quite sometime about the Energy counts and just how important getting the right counts really is, but here are a couple keys to think about:

1. Play all Special Energy or include basic Energy?

Not much you can do about it.

My first thought was to go heavy with basic Energy to help reduce how vulnerable I was to Enhanced Hammer. However, I quickly realized that regardless at least half my Energy line up would probably have to be Special Energy (Plasma/DCE) so Enhanced was always going to be a clutch card against me.

Plus the deck just needs so many different types of Energy, by not taking advantage of Prism and Blend Energy I felt like I was just shooting myself in the foot in the long run.

As I discussed earlier though, losing the ability to be able to Skyla for Energy Search hurts consistency a lot more than I think players realize. All year I’d find myself using Skyla for Energy Search in about half my games. I’m just such a big fan of consistency and I really hated losing that option.

2. The Correct Number of Energy

I like to keep my Energy line up as small as possible to allow me to play more Trainers. This creates a tricky balancing act, but after testing with the deck I’m convinced the deck should not play less than 12 Energy and simply can’t take the hit in the Trainer line up playing more than 14. I personally play 13 Energy, and found this to be the best overall balance.

Energy – 13

4 Plasma Energy
4 Prism Energy
3 Double Colorless Energy
2 Blend Energy WLFM

4 Plasma Energy

I feel like almost all players are simply going to shove 4 Plasma Energy in their deck and not think twice about it. I’ve been dead set on playing 4 Colress Machine just for the speed advantage and early Energy acceleration, but I’ve complemented the idea of only running 3 Plasma Energy. Early game it should have almost no impact on getting Plasma Energy into play. Later in the game you might wind up with a dead Colress Machine or two, but that would be the trade off you make for having a less strained Energy lineup.

4 Prism Energy

This was actually a much easier call for me than the 4 Plasma Energy. You’re playing an all Basic deck that requires multiple Energy types and there is an Energy available that counts for every type and only Basic Pokémon. What’s not to like?

The only thing important thing to keep in mind is that Prism Energy is the only Energy in the deck that can allow Deoxys-EX to attack. Only having 4 outs to it can lead to situations where it’s difficult to attack with Deoxys-EX when you need to. However, Deoxys-EX isn’t a major attacker, so I’m not overly worried about this.

3 Double Colorless Energy

Remember, it can be used to retreat Deoxys too.

Originally I had 4 Double Colorless Energy in the deck, but made the cut down to 3 in the interest of space. Lugia EX and Tornadus EX are the two main attackers in the deck that use DCE. Thundurus EX does as well, but to a lesser extent and DCE is usually not needed until turn 2 or 3, so I’m less worried about seeing it in the opening hand. Playing 1 less though does slightly decrease my odds of T1 Tornadus EX or T1 Lugia EX, but those situations would be marginal anyway.

I also like to note that Deoxys-EX has a Retreat Cost of 2, so DCE can help get Deoxys-EX out of the Active Spot and make it much harder for your opponent to try and lock it active out of desperation.

2 Blend Energy WLFM

The Blend Energy works for both Thundurus EX and Kyurem. I played 2 because that gave me a total of 6 outs for Thundurus EX to attack which translates into 1 in 10 cards will have a “L Energy.” I open with 8 (7 plus my draw) however 1-of those has to be a basic so 7 cards that could possibly be one of my 6. Between my opening 7 and a Supporter I feel the odds are more than in my favor to get that T1 Raiden Knuckle.


When discussing matchups I prefer not to talk about percentages or even give descriptions like “favorable” or “unfavorable” because I feel so many of these matchups can swing one way or the other based on player skill and deck builds. Instead I’m just going to discuss what strategies I would use in the game for both sides, but focus more heavily on the Plasma side. My hope is this will give you a strong game plan heading into each of these matchups.

Note: I see players discuss matchups in percentages all the time and some pretty crazy numbers get thrown out there. Often I hear: “Yeah, I have like a 90-10 matchup against that deck.” In reality, that isn’t even close to true. I honestly don’t think any meta deck right now can claim to have above a 80-20 matchup against another meta deck.

When I think about percentages I think of them in terms of money. If somebody thinks they have a 90-10 matchup then they should be willing to put up $9 while I only put up $1 every game we play. When I use this analogy all of a sudden people start reconsidering their percentages. This method of thinking forces me to give myself a non-biased opinion on what my odds in the matchup really are.

Vs. Blastoise/Keldeo/Black Kyurem

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The big bad turtle.

Blastoise is one of the scariest matchups for a Plasma deck. You have a huge advantage early game since you’re considerably faster than they are, but it’s very easy for Blastoise to come back and take 3 KOs against Pokémon-EX to win the game. Essentially in the mid and late game they can put you on a three turn death clock.

The way I see the matchup it’s basically divided into two parts: part one is before they set up Blastoise and Black Kyurem EX, and part two is after they have both on the field.

Before they get set up is a great chance to steal the game. In my testing I’ve had games where I’ve donked a Squirtle to win or I’ve gone up 3 or 4 Prizes before my opponent sets up which makes it very easy for Plasma to win the game by only having to KO 1 or 2 legitimate threats.

Once they get Blastosie and Black Kyurem EX set up the matchup gets more interesting and you’re presented with several different routes to take. The first is if your opponent uses “Black Ballista” they have to discard 3 Energy. Depending on the game state, sometimes the most logical approach is to respond by KOing the Blastoise and not Black Kyurem EX. There are a whole slew of situations where Plasma can 1HKO the Blastoise and I won’t bore you by walking through them all, but scenarios involving Lugia EX or Kyurem are the two most common.

Note: As a Blastosie player it is essential that you have 2 Blastoise in play ASAP. If you can get 2 Blastoise into play it completely takes away this option for the Plasma deck and most of the time they won’t even go for it. Even having a Blastoise and playing down a Squirtle will be too much of a risk for them to go for the Stoise.

As a Plasma player on the other hand even if they have a Squirtle in play, sometimes it’s still worth KOing the Blastosie, especially if you precede the play with an N. In these situations they would need Rare Candy, Blastoise, and Super Energy Retrieval off their new (and hopefully smaller) hand. This isn’t a play I can tell you with certainty to or not to go for; you really just have to look at the situation. The number of Rare Candy, Blastoise, and Superior Energy Retrieval in their discard pile should all factor into your decision.

The second route is to attack the Black Kyurem EX itself. Depending on your board position you might even be able to trade with it favorably. Kyurem or Lugia EX with Laser/Virbank and 3 Deoxys-EX in play 1HKOs a Black Kyurem EX (120 + 30 + 30). This might seem like a lot of cards to set up, but it’s honestly not over the course of a long game.

Note: As a Blastoise player, the Stadium war is extremely important to you. By locking your opponent out of Virbank City Gym you essential lock them out of almost all ways to score 1HKOs on Black Kyurem EX.

As a Team Plasma Player on the other hand I know I might have a hard time keeping a Virbank City Gym locked into play in the late game. I can make it easier for myself to score these 1HKOs by using Kyurem’s first attack to spread 30-30 in the early game, which removes the dependency on Virbank City Gym and Hypnotoxic Laser.

The other thing I’m very cautious of is having access to my 4th Deoxys-EX. Many players get so focused on the KOs that they forget how they’ll get the right math. A Pokémon Catcher and KO on Deoxys-EX can really mess with the math for a Plasma player and if they’re not careful leave them 10 damage shy.

If the Stoise players get both Blastoise and Black Kyurem EX into play you might have to rely on some Hail Mary plays with N. Countering Tropical Beach and then using N to put a Blastoise player at 1 or 2 cards can lead to some pretty crazy comebacks.

Another strategy, which I’ve discussed heavily in the past, is forcing them to take that phantom 7th Prize. Kyurem creates a huge problem for Blastoise, as it’s a non-EX attacker that can 1HKO anything in its path.

If Blastoise takes the turn to KO Kyurem they are especially forcing themselves to take 7 Prizes over the course of the game. If they attempt to Catcher around it, they are simply resetting its attack and are facing another possible 1HKO situation on the following turn. It really is a lose-lose situation for the Blastiose player.

Main Points

  • Diversify your Energy. It’s very easy for Blastoise to score 1HKOs, so don’t leave yourself in a situation where they can take all of your Energy off the board in one turn.
  • Keep track of Superior Energy Retrievals and Pokémon Catchers, as these are going to be 2 most clutch cards for your opponent. Most lists will play 3-4 copies of each.
  • Look for weaknesses in your opponent’s setup, such as only having 1 Blastoise in play and no Squirtle.
  • Mid and late game Ns are going to be your Hail Mary plays in this matchup. Even buying yourself 1 turn can be the deciding factor against Blastoise.

Vs. Rayquaza/Eelektrik

It’s like I’m fish food or something.

I’m honestly not quite sure how much play RayEels will see as it’s getting increasingly more dangerous to play 40 HP Basics. However, I say this just about every time a new set is released and the deck still seems to stay somewhere in the middle or low end of Tier 1. The deck did gain a huge asset in Plasma Freeze with Mr. Mime, which should greatly improve the deck’s Darkrai and Landorus matchups, but will have very little impact against Plasma decks.

This matchup plays out a lot like Blastoise does in the sense you have time before they start 1HKOing you. In my testing though I’ve found this matchup considerably easier as it’s much harder for them to set up a Rayquaza EX and 3 Eels than it is for a Blastoise player to set up 1 Blastoise and 1 Black Kyurem EX. Normally in this matchup you have another turn or two to better your board position than you would against Blastoise.

I’ve found the key to this matchup to be your early game pressure on Tynamos. Your MVP of this matchup is definitely going to be Thundurus EX and the early game pressure it can apply. Thundurus EX and 1 Deoxys-EX in play gives you that magic number of 40. Almost all 4 of your Pokémon Catcher will always be used to bring up Tynamos or Eelektriks. In the first 5 turns of the game I normally KO 3 or even 4 Tynamos with relative ease. This makes it very hard for them to 1HKO your Thundurus and also gives you a large enough Prize lead that even if the game starts to go downhill you can still steal the game.

During testing I have ran into issues where I go so far up on Prizes that my opponent can hit me with a big N and put me at a small hand of 2-3 while they will normally get a full hand of 6. There really isn’t much you can do about this other than keep your board position as strong as possible to mitigate the effects of N.

Now let’s talk about worst case scenario. Everything is going horribly wrong for you and your opponent manages to get fully set up before you get that Prize lead on them. In this situation you have to focus on trading with the Rayquaza EX. Once again we’re going to look at Kyurem, Lugia EX, and Tornadus EX. We’re going to need basically the same math we needed against Blastoise, but it is slightly easier since we only need 2 Deoxys-EX in play instead of 3.

Note: I really don’t have any advice for the RayEels player; this is a very hard matchup for you. You have to hope that you have a fast setup and they have a slow start. If they don’t get that huge Prize lead and you can stream Rayquaza EXs you have a solid shot at the game.

If you’re looking to build RayEels and want a counter to Plasma decks, I would consider Victini-EX. This would allow you to put early pressure on your opponent and give them something to worry about if they ignore the Victini and go after the Tynamos.

Main Points

  • Focus on taking out Tynamos early.
  • Thundurus EX is going to be your MVP in the early game.
  • Use Kyurem, Lugia EX, or Tornadus EX to 1HKO Rayquaza EX.

Vs. Darkrai/Sableye/Keldeo

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Neutralize the Energy.

This matchup really comes down to how good your T1/T2 is vs. how good their T1/T2 is. The other thing this matchup comes down to is how many copies of Enhanced Hammer they play and how many copies of Max Potion you play.

Your ideal starter is going to of course be Thundurus EX while they will want to open with Sableye. I can’t stress enough just how important it is to get that T1/T2 KO on Sableye. It’s less about taking the Prize and more about getting that Energy off the board.

Darkrai has a considerably harder time hitting T2 Night Spear if you remove an Energy from their board. It takes away their Energy Switch option and makes it harder for them to Dark Patch since they have to bring something else Active and then get an Energy under it to retreat to Darkrai.

Ideally 2 of your Prizes come from Knocking Out Sableyes and then 2 Darkrai EX make up your remaining 4 Prizes. A combination of Thundurus EX, Deoxys-EX, and Laser should give you 1HKOs on Sableye and a combination of Deoxys-EX and Tornadus EX, Lugia EX, or Kyurem will you give you 1HKOs on Darkrai EX. Worse case scenario you have to settle for the 2HKO, but it’s much harder for them to abuse Max Potion than a lot of decks.

Note: As a Darkrai EX player your key to winning is really going revolve around making big plays with Sableye. Junk Hunt is going to be huge in this matchup and well-timed Catchers, Lasers, and Enhanced Hammers are going to be the deciding factors. Getting that initial 30/60 damage on threats like Kyurem, Tornadus EX, and Lugia EX is also going to be huge to ensure that even if they 1HKO you, it’s in a situation where you can come right back and 1HKO them.

This is a very back and forth matchup which can really go either way. There does seem to be a lot of thought that goes into making right decisions on both sides. This can lead to some very back and forth skill intensive games which I love to see. This is certainly going to be a very common matchup at both Battle Roads and Nationals and one you’ll want to make sure you’re ready for, regardless of which deck you’re playing.

Main Points

  • Early pressure on Sableye.
  • Time your Max Potion well.
  • Ideally your 6 Prizes will be 2 Sableyes and 2 Darkrais.

Vs. Big Basics

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Fighting type AND Resistant to Lightning.

Big Basics is a very general term to describe a deck that revolves around playing high hitting and high HP Basic Pokémon. I feel at Cities the deck started out as Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX with either Terrakion NVI or Bouffalant DRX. By the time Spring Regionals came around the deck was commonly seen as either Landorus/Bouffalant or Landorus/Bouffalant/Tornadus. This is also the same variation has seen play at Spring BRs.

And it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the deck try to incorporate Plasma Badge so it can take advantage of cards like Deoxys-EX and Colress Machine.

Despite the major differences you might see between different variations of Big Basic decks, the matchup always plays out similarly. It usually all comes down to type matching for both decks.

Note: Big Basic’s main strategy is to spread damage early with Landorus-EX to set up 1HKOs with Bouffalant in the later stages of the game. This opening is really strong against Plasma because normally Plasma like to start the game off by using Thundurus, which is Weak to Fighting, for Energy acceleration.

As for the Plasma player, they’re mainly going to want to type match their way to victory; Kyurem against Landorus, Deoxys against Mewtwo, Thundurus against Tornadus, and Lugia against Bouffalant. The Lugia EX against Bouffalant is especially important to keep on the right Prize track of taking 2 Prizes at a time, needing only 3 Knock Outs to win the game.

Like a lot of games that revolve around big Basic Pokémon, the difference between going first and second is huge. Whoever goes first has a significant advantage in the matchup and can put their opponent in a tough spot before they even draw a card. Techs like Max Potion are going to be huge for the Plasma player, but less so for the Big Basics player since Plasma will normally score 1HKOs.

Outside of type matching, it’s hard to give a more particular strategy for this matchup. A lot of the time it’s just about playing the opening hand you’re given and keeping your options open.

The one thing you can do is on your first deck search check for your important Pokémon in this matchup (Kyurem and Lugia EX) and then your key tech cards (mainly Max Potion).

Main Points

  • Check for key cards on your first search (Kyurem, Lugia EX, and Max Potion).
  • Use type matching to your advantage.
  • Use Lugia EX against Bouffalant to stay on track for a 2-2-2 Prize win.

An Aside: Buying Cards from New Sets

Before I conclude the article, I want to briefly discuss a few key pointers I’ve picked up over the last few years that have saved me a bunch of money.

1. Preorders are either going to be a steal or a complete rip-off.

If you’re lucky enough to see preorders as soon as they go up you can probably catch a steal, but any time after that they’re probably going to be a rip-off. You’re always going to be taking a shot in the dark because you have no idea how card values will settle (though you can make educated guesses).

For the most part, unless I’m 100% sure I’m getting a steal, I normally avoid preorders. It just seems for every few dollars I save by preordering a card for below its final market value I lose a few dollars by overpaying for another one.

2. Don’t buy singles until the set is officially released.

Be patient!

It drives me crazy when I see people buy singles on eBay during Prereleases. At this point you have a very high demand for the cards and a very small supply, which in turn leads to some very inflated prices.

The exception to this is you can sometimes get some pretty solid deals at Prereleases themselves. At my Plasma Freeze Prerelease I bought a Full Art Juniper for $30 from a guy close to my age. We both knew that was about the price the card would settle around and he wanted the cash now.

To elaborate even further, I usually like to wait at least a week after the set is released to really start buying anything. Usually this helps get the overeager bidders out of the way and prices finally start to level off.

The first thing you should always do is check the Buy It Now prices. All of the time I see auctions going for higher prices than the lowest BINs. I caught a BIN for FA Deoxys at $42.95 the other day when auctions were consistently going for $45+, and very similar situations were happening with FA Junipers as well. People get overly excited with trying to win an auction and don’t know when to quit.

3. Full art cards hold value better than non-full art cards.

I’ve already discussed my hatred for full art cards in a previous article and how I recommend against playing a deck with too many full art/reverse holo cards as this seems to cause clumping (though many people disagree with me, so perhaps it is all in my head).

That being said though, I still do prefer the full art versions of some cards (Mewtwo EX and Keldeo-EX come to mind). Also, when you’re looking at purchasing cards from a investment standpoint, the full arts are the way to go.

Before I started buying Plasma Freeze cards I knew the tins were coming out after Worlds and would really hurt the value of the Thundurus, Deoxys, and Lugia. Normally the regular art versions tank in value while the full art versions take less of a hit when tin promos are released. For example, last year I bought 3 Full Art Darkrais for just under $50 each rather than buying regular versions for about $5 less.

Now here we are a year later and after the release of the tin Darkrai EX, the full art is still selling for $25-$30 where the regular is selling between $10-$20. My extra $5 investment turned out to have a dramatic difference a year later. (Though I’ll admit the main reason I bought the full arts was because I felt the picture was cooler.)

I expect a similar trend with the Plasma tins. Just something to think about when buying and trading for Plasma cards.


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Hold on tight for the end of the season!

I really hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. I’ll admit this article took a great deal of time to write, but overall I’m very happy with the way it turned out. If you have any questions, please feel free to discuss them with me on the forums or shoot me a private message. I’ll respond as timely as possible.

We’re certainly coming up on the home stretch with Spring Battle Roads starting just last week. I’m really not sure how many (if any) Battle Roads I will be attending over the next few weeks. I generally don’t like the feeling of Battle Roads with no top cut. They just don’t seem to have the same competitive environment that I used last year as a preparation for Nationals. However, I will most certainly be at Nationals and am looking forward to seeing everybody there.

If you enjoyed the article please take just a second to “like” it, and if for some reason you didn’t like the article please feel free to leave me honest feedback.

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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