Playing Plasma and Ace Trainer USA Nationals Coverage

Hi everyone, Myles here to give you some last minute Nationals/Worlds advice for playing TDK (Thundurus EX/Deoxys-EX/Kyurem PLF). As one of the newest and most hyped decks it’s fair to say that TDK will see a lot of play at Nationals – so for everyone out there who is playing it, here are some last minute thoughts to chew on.

I recently played TDK at Australian National Championships and finished in 3rd place out of our (record breaking) attendance of 128 masters. Seven rounds of Bo3 swiss and a Top 32 meant my deck was really put to the test – but it held out pretty well.

Ace Trainer Australia & USA Nationals Coverage

myles oneill ace trainer

Before we get to that though I want to quickly tell you about a project close to my heart. For the last month or so I have been working closely with other members of the Australian Pokémon community (including SixPrize’s own Vysekun) to create a new website: Ace Trainer Australia.

Our goal with the site is to provide event coverage, results, and articles from the Australian Pokémon scene. We want to see Pokémon TCG grow in Australia and around the world and we are hoping this site will do just that. For strategy articles and an insight into the Australian Pokémon scene, please check out our website and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

I am also extremely excited to announce that Ace Trainer will be providing a live coverage event portal for USA Nationals 2013. This portal will be live from the 4th – 7th of July and will aggregate all Nationals coverage onto one page. It also includes live chat so you can discuss the event as it goes.

Editor’s Note: Sorry for not getting this published and the news out there before Nationals! I was busy all weekend and didn’t have the energy or focus to edit articles. Hopefully some of you still saw Ace Trainer’s live coverage.

We hope this will be a great resource for players at the event and viewers around the world who want to get as much info as possible. So make sure to check it out!

Tips for TDK

So on to the meaty stuff, TDK. There has been much written about the deck so I won’t introduce it – needless to say you should have a solid idea of how this deck works if you intend to do well at Nationals, its sure to see a lot of play.

I’ll give you the list I used for Australia’s Nationals and discuss some of the main list choices, alternatives, and playstyle choices. Hopefully this will give you some ideas for those last minute list alterations!

Pokémon – 10

2 Thundurus EX

4 Deoxys-EX

3 Kyurem PLF

1 Absol PLF

Trainers – 47

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Colress

2 Skyla


3 Ultra Ball

1 Plasma Ball

4 Switch

2 Float Stone

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Colress Machine

1 Computer Search


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 13

4 Plasma

4 Prism

4 Blend WFLM

1 L

I think there is a reasonable amount of consensus around the standard 2 Thundurus EX, 4 Deoxys-EX, and 3 Kyurem for a general TDK build. Four Deoxys-EX give you the consistency to get out the backbone of the deck. Two Thundurus EX give you critical energy acceleration/recovery, but three is just needless overkill.

Three Kyurem is perhaps debatable, but it’s the main attacker of the deck and should be treated that way… which leads me to talk about one of the least discussed yet most important aspects to playing Plasma: attackers.

Four Attacking Pokémon

kyurem plasma freeze plf
Your main attacker.

There are different ways to play Plasma, but here is my strong recommendation – the list needs to run 4 core attacking Pokémon. Thundurus EX and Deoxys-EX can be used to attack, but they aren’t counted as attacking Pokémon. Kyurem is your number one choice as an attacker, followed by a number of tech Pokémon which are usually best off as single techs. Your main choices are Lugia EX, Tornadus-EX PLF, Absol PLF, Landorus Promo, or Snorlax.

Each one of these attackers has their advantages and disadvantages and each will subtly change the other cards in your list. If you run Lugia EX, Tornadus-EX PLF, or Snorlax you’ll want to run Double Colorless and it’s definitely worth including Scramble Switch in your list. Each of these attackers requires you to dedicate significant Energy acceleration and resources to get going – so if you choose to play them in a matchup it is important to not be half hearted about it.

Absol PLF and Landorus Promo on the other hand require minimal Energy commitment and are generally metagame techs. I used Absol in my list and I highly recommend it. It can be powered in one turn, and in a lot of game states can do as much damage as Kyurem – without needing to switch out afterward. It has a great amount of HP, being very difficult to 1HKO in the mirror, and really allowing you to turn games around. Landorus on the other hand is strong against dark and electric Pokémon, of which there are a lot floating around and though its water weakness hurts it, its still a strong option.

But why four Pokémon you might ask? It comes down to the way you play the deck and the way you should think about it. Plasma can be a confusing deck to master but I think the best way to do well with it is to frame it in your mind as a set up deck. Your set up with it is simple, but nonetheless important.

In every game you have 6 Pokémon slots on the board: 5 bench slots and one active slot. Three of those slots need to be dedicated to Deoxys-EX – you need that many to hit magic numbers with Kyurem, Thundurus EX, and whatever other attackers you include. In some matchups you can get away with 2 Deoxys-EX (if they only have EXs with 170HP) and in some situations 4 Deoxys-EX can be a strategic decision (to take out that pesky Absol) – but on the whole 3 is what you’ll want in the vast majority of games and situations.

You will also need to leave one slot for Thundurus EX. Thundurus EX is a great opener as well as a great utility throughout the mid-late game and you will want to get one on the bench every time.

Finally you have two slots left, and these need to be left for attacking Pokémon. With two slots you can have one attacker active while another is on the bench being powered up. Then when an attacker is Knocked Out you can play down another to take its place. This also allows you to avoid difficult situations where you have a heavily damaged attacker with no bench spaces to play down and power up another.

The biggest mistake I’ve seen plasma players make is to not respect this delicate balance of bench space. If you overshoot and play 4 Deoxys-EX, or an extra Thundurus EX, or three attackers you will be cutting yourself out of essential bench space and you will lose yourself the game. Which brings me to my last important point on this topic – why Keldeo-EX is a bad choice for the deck.

No Keldeo-EX
No place for the pony.

Keldeo-EX seems like a natural choice to add to this deck on paper. It’s useful to help Kyurem retreat to attack again, to get out of sticky situations where you’ve got something stuck as active, or worse asleep from Hypnotoxic Laser. However Keldeo-EX doesn’t work nearly as well as it should for one important reason – there is no space for it on your bench.

Now this does come down to playstyle and if you use Keldeo-EX and find it works for you, then go with it – but keep in mind exactly what bench space you are cutting for it. If you cut a Deoxys-EX you will struggle to KO 180 HP Pokémon without putting damage on them first. If you cut Thundurus EX then you’ll run into problems with energy. And if you cut an attacker slot on the bench then you could run into a tricky situation where you have a damaged attacker and no way to power up another.

The other problem Keldeo-EX has is that it is fragile. When you commit to include Keldeo-EX you also need to commit to Float Stones and generally less Switch. This is important because it makes you very reliant on Keldeo-EX for retreating. Whenever I face an opponent running Keldeo-EX an important priority is taking it out early – doing so places the deck running it in a difficult place with switching for the rest of the game.

The same effect can also be achieved by decks running Tool Scrapper – forcing Keldeo-EX to manually retreat, which is particularly painful to deal with if you don’t run DCE.

Trainer Choices

My list of Trainers is fairly standard, but I’ll review some of the key points that should be considered.

Firstly for Supporters, it’s vital to have a high count of 13-15 in your list if you wish to stay consistent across an entire event at Nationals. Secondly, I highly recommend running at least 3 Colress. Although it can be a tough Supporter in an opening hand, it works fantastically in this deck with the current metagame, often giving you massive hands in the lategame when you need them most.

Other numbers come down to personal preferences and testing, I found 3 Colress Machine and 4 Pokémon search cards to run the smoothest. 4 Catcher and Hypnotoxic Laser seem like obvious choices too – they are some of the best cards in the game and work amazingly with this deck.

frozen city plasma freeze plf
Another Stadium option.

For Stadiums I chose 2 Virbank City Gym, though I have tested with Frozen City as a 1-of tech or as a 3-of replacement for Virbank. Replacing Virbank + Lasers with 3 Frozen City and 3 Enhanced Hammers is an interesting and powerful way to improve both your Blastoise and Plasma mirror matchups – but will generally hurt against everything else and it cuts you out of Laser, which has the amazing strength of giving you 1HKOs, something which can’t be underestimated. The 1-of tech is a useful idea against Blastoise but I’ve never found it to work with any consistency.

For ACE SPEC a lot is up to personal play style. If you are using Lugia EX or another big attacker than Scramble Switch is the way to go. Otherwise your best options are Computer Search or Dowsing Machine. Both are incredibly powerful, but I prefer Computer Search for the sheer consistency boost it gives the deck.

Finally I want to talk about the 4 Switches and 2 Float Stones in my list. This is higher than most lists you’ll see around, even lists which don’t run Keldeo-EX. I think Switch is the most important card in this deck and with 2 Float Stone it runs even smoother. Switch has so many different roles in this deck, from denying stall tactics, to escaping poison, to facilitating multiple turns of Blizzard Burn from Kyurem.

This makes it one of your best cards and the card you will look for most, aggressively or defensively. Unlike Keldeo-EX it’s not fragile to anything but Item lock (and a single Keldeo-EX can’t help you much against that either). I strongly suggest running at least 5-6 switch cards with Plasma. Anything less is too weak.

In Summary

I had a fantastic run with this list at Australian Nationals, even beating the tournament winner in Swiss on the first day. In the end Blastoise was the deck which finally defeated me and I believe that to be the toughest matchup for Plasma. A sister article to this one detailing my tournament report will be up at Ace Trainer Australia soon – so check that out too!

So to summarize here are my few take home points you should keep in mind when playing Plasma, being it at Nationals, Worlds, or online.

  1. Consider your Pokémon line and your bench spaces closely and carefully at all times. If you run Keldeo-EX, protect it. If you face Keldeo-EX, kill it.
  2. Cards that interact with large benches (Colress & Absol PLF) are really good right now!
  3. Run a high Supporter count, don’t cut consistency for techs – especially for big tournaments like Nationals!


Finally I’d like to leave you with a fun decklist I’ve found to be surprisingly effective. It uses Umbreon PLF and the two best non-EX attackers in the format to force your opponent to take more prizes than they can. Give it a try if you want to enjoy something a little different. Good luck at Nationals!

Pokémon – 12

3 Eevee PLF 89

3 Umbreon PLF

3 Kyurem PLF

3 Absol PLF

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Colress

1 Random Receiver


4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Level Ball

2 Plasma Ball

3 Colress Machine

3 Switch

1 Super Rod

1 Scramble Switch


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 14

4 Plasma

4 Prism

4 W

2 D

Reader Interactions

9 replies

  1. Tyler Kittelson-Burke

    This would have been better if posted before nats, but still great article. Very helpful.

    • Myles O’Neill  → Tyler

      I wrote it before Nats but sadly I submitted it a little too late for Adam to get onto the site in time. Sorry about that! But hopefully its off some use to people going into worlds.

  2. jedisurvivor

    Loving that Umbreon deck list – I just might have to try it!

    Out of curiosity, why the preference for Eevee 89 over Eevee 90? I’ve been competing with a Plasma Beartic/Umbreon deck, and I like having “Signs of Evo” as a potential searching tool for the first turn, in case I don’t start with an active Cubchoo.

    • Myles O’Neill  → jedisurvivor

      I like both options :) . Signs of Evo is hurt quite a bit by the fact you only get one Umbreon from the deck with it. Really you should avoid attacking (and attaching energy to) eevee altogether, so it really doesn’t matter. Growl does have some utility as an anti-donk measure.

  3. Diego Gutierrez

    I did catch the coverage of the US Nationals on that site, it was pretty nifty.

  4. Austin Hinkle

    I love the idea of Umbreon.dec, I will definitely be testing it for Fall Battle Roads. I think Life Dew could be great as an Ace-Spec; knocking out a 170-190 HP Pokemon for 0 prizes has got to create the most efficient attackers in the format.

  5. Bella Brown

    Like the idea of Umbreon! How about pairing it with Darkrai or other EX attackers? It gives you free retreat as an added bonus too :P On top of this, it could be run with a couple of deoxys as a pluspower, and plasma badges for any other attackers you could include (such as darkrai EX)….

  6. Christopher Da Mayne Taylor

    I’ve been testing with no Keldeo and it’s just brutal. 4 Switches and 2 Float Stones isn’t enough for 4 Catchers and 4 Lasers. Kyurem and Thundurus are far too fragile to take constant Laserbank damage. I’d be very surprised to see this deck be more successful without a Keldeo.

    • Myles O’Neill  → Christopher

      I think this comes down to playstyle and how you utilise the retreat mechanisms you have. You shouldn’t need to switch out of every catcher or laser, and if your opponent is using every single one for stalling you should be able to survive with manual retreating (after which it is advisable to use thundurus more heavily to keep energy numbers high enough).

      Success wise, I think you’ll find no keldeo versions have done very well around the world. For example, Pooka made Top 16 at US Nationals with no Keldeo and only 3 switch/2 float stone!

Leave a Reply

You are logged out. Register. Log in.