Covering the Path to Worlds and Beyond

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Is this the right road to Worlds?

So my National Championship adventure is over, but I had a great time and learned a lot about this format and the next. Therefore, I’d like to take a little time to share a few thoughts: how things went (wrong) in the actual tournament for me; what impact I see from this event for Worlds, as well as thoughts on arguably the top two decks going into the big show; and how we could take advantage of the upcoming Plasma Blast set.

Table of Contents

Down in Flames: Things to Learn from My Nationals Experience

All in all, I did poorly at Nationals at this year an astounding 2-4 explosion. The frustrating thing was that I felt my list and metagame call were both fairly good.

I went with this :

Pokémon – 13

4 Squirtle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR
3 Keldeo-EX
2 Black Kyurem-EX PLS
1 Mr. Mime PLF

Trainers – 34

4 N
4 Professor Juniper
4 Skyla
1 Bianca
1 Colress

 

4 Rare Candy

4 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

3 Pokémon Catcher
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Computer Search

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

10 Water
3 Lightning

All in all, it looks like a pretty standard Blastoise list with standard consistency. The only out of the ordinary play I made was the tech Mr. Mime to help shore up my Plasma and Darkrai matchups. I felt like it could take on anything…but little did I know, it’d choose to fall asleep and take on nothing.

Round 1 vs. Sean F. (Gothitelle/Accelgor)

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All play and no work, I tell ya.

Ironically, I would play (and lose to) my favorite deck in the format Round 1. I established a turn two Blastoise, but absolutely nothing else to show for it for turns on end. Eventually he got set up via his own Tropical Beach, whereas I never got to see my Keldeos or anything until the very late game. My Energies were also particularly scarce, so he stomped me a clean 6-0 in Prizes.

0-1

Round 2 vs. Gentleman (Plasma)

This game, I set up with zero trouble, and won handily. I won even more handily due to a couple in-game errors he made involving failing to check his Prize cards for Plasma Energy.

1-1

Round 3 vs. Alex S. (Darkrai)

I play against a good friend from Louisiana this round, and we both start horrendously with a procession of draw-pass…only for me it’s much worse, because I had no Supporters or Squirtles. I drew Prizes with a for a while, and finally made a setup of sorts getting one Blastoise into play, but it quickly fell to a Darkrai and an N into garbage.

1-2

Round 4 vs. ??? (RayEels)

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He surely had access to one, right?

We have a good back-and-forth exchange, but due to some missed attacks I am unable to maintain my Prize dominance. So as a result, I’m later forced to Blastoise swarm for Prizes, keeping me in the game by going two-for-one one time and KO on Eel another.

However, the part of this game worthy of its Underground inclusion is a strange situation that makes for a perfect “what would you do…?” question. With a little more than ten cards left in my opponent’s deck, three Catcher used, and zero ACE SPEC used, I deemed it unsafe to play a Black Kyurem EX + four Energy from my hand, thinking he had Catcher for game with two Prizes left.

By all accounts he had plenty of Colress/Juniper left, so hitting the 4th Catcher or Dowsing ought to have been easy. Therefore, I played it “safe” and swung with the Stoise, hoping to hit into another Stoise in my three remaining Prizes to prolong the swarm. This did not happen and he promptly beat me, as I did not take the risk and charge up my Black Kyurem.

1-3

After the game, though, he revealed a very interesting fact: due to a deck check, his unwritten Dowsing Machine had to be replaced with… a Lightning Energy. Therefore, he ran ZERO ACE SPECs, as well as only three Catcher total. So only after the game did I realize how my decision depended entirely on assumptions about the game.

How was I supposed to know he ran no Dowsing? How was I supposed to know he didn’t run four Catcher? Should I have assumed things differently, or was this simply a freak accident loss?

I’m of the belief that my conservative playing here was justified because A. he had a very thin deck, and B. ACE SPECs getting removed from lists is a rare thing. How would you have handled it, though?

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Mean Look got me a weird look.

At this point, my vying for the National title was all but over. However, I decided to play some more, earning a win against a no show, a loss against a Kyurem that always seemed to N me out of my Blastoise, and a “loss” against a Plasma player while I was using my favorite unlimited deck as a joke (the one that used Mew-EX LM and Murkrow N1, seen previously in the “Earning Your MAF Degree” article). As expected, it worked like a charm, and I earned my loss!

So what happened? Well, I don’t feel like any of my losses were out of my grasp from a tactical or strategic standpoint; rather, I believe that I lost my games simply because I could not draw worth anything. This isn’t entirely due to luck, but had I run one less tech card (Mime, Scrapper) for draw, I likely would’ve 6-1 or 5-2 instead of an abysmal 2-4/2-5. While I certainly had opponents who played well (Sean F in particular made it to the Top 8 of the whole tournament), I never once felt like overwhelmingly good play had a say in any of the results – I simply did the best that I could in-game, but fell flat due to the hands I was dealt.

Later on in the article, I’ll discuss some ways to keep that from happening again. However, by not running enough draw/search, I pretty much sealed my fate in a “consistency-trumps-all” event like Nationals.

Discussing The Top Decks of Nationals and Predicting the Worlds Metagame

As far as most of us should be concerned, Nationals is in the books – it’s its effect we care about now. However, I’d like to take a brief glance at the top two decks from each age group…

Juniors (Finals Match: Plasma VS Plasma)
Seniors (Finals Match: Plasma VS Darkrai/)
Masters (Finals Match: Accelgor/Gothitelle VS Plasma)

For the most part, I’ll be skipping Darkrai/Sableye/Garbodor – I’ve already addressed that in a previous marathon article, and I feel like Zach does it plenty of justice. However, I’d like to analyze Ryan’s list from an outsider perspective, pointing out the good and the bad of it that makes this version of Plasma so unique. For reference, here it is all over again…

Pokémon – 11

4 Deoxys-EX
3 Kyurem PLF
2 Thundurus-EX PLF
2 Absol PLF

Trainers – 36

4 N
4 Professor Juniper
3 Colress

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Pokémon Catcher
3 Bicycle
3 Colress Machine
3 Float Stone
2 Switch
2 Team Plasma Ball
1 Ultra Ball

1 Life Dew

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 13

4 Plasma
4 Prism
3 Blend WLFM
2 Blend GRPD

Notes on Ryan’s List

1. No Keldeo-EX. In theory, this is a strange move to most, especially since it functions as a “get out of jail free” card against Darkrai’s Hypnotoxic Lasers and is your fighting chance against Accelgor. However, I can see why Ryan would cut it: it invokes a less consistent Basic search engine, doesn’t help all that much against Accelgor in the long run, and might not be as helpful against mirror and Darkrai as just switching around bad situations would be.

2. Maximize the utility of Colress. Like my Electrode version of Accelgor from my last article, this build complements filling up your bench quickly so that you may Colress turn one without too much guilt. More importantly, though, is using Colress for 7-10 by turn two or three, which lets you enjoy a large card gain without wasting resources to a Juniper discard.

3. Bicycles everywhere! I personally like this as not only good deck thin, but as a way to recover from a late game N, too.

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Dew or CPU?

4. Life Dew! This is a brilliant play I should’ve seen coming from miles away, but was too preoccupied with the rest of my decks to care that much. I also took for granted how few people would run Tool Scrapper, as I had gotten the beatdown from Garbodor when I tried the same earlier this season.

However, in a format where consistency can mean everything, I still really like what Computer Search brings to the table. I also think it has more synergy with a list that emphasizes Thundurus and deck thin cards like Bicycle, as well as makes your Gothitelle/Accelgor matchup better by simply being there to orchestrate more turn one wins than you’d otherwise have.

All in all, I would argue that to win Worlds with this version of Plasma in the Masters division, you will either need a very favorable metagame, or some good in-game luck against Accelgor. Nevertheless, it’s a great choice.

Other Musings on Plasma

However, just because Ryan did very well in the top age group doesn’t mean we should ignore the other Plasma lists and options, as well as where they stand going into Juniors and Seniors for Worlds.

1. EX. The Juniors winner used Lugia EX to take down his National Championships. In an age group where experience is less, and misplays are more common, an extra Prize per attack is far more unforgiving than in the Masters or even Seniors.

2. Landorus promo turned out to be a dud, but if you’re running a build with Scramble Switch, I’d actually consider putting it into a Seniors list. Darkrai was already big, but now that Darkrai/Garbodor is a thing, it’s an even better option for easy 1-shots. Just don’t cut something for this at the expense of your Plasma mirror – only do it when you already feel good about that match!

Some Thoughts on Accelgor and How to Combat It

While I don’t know the exact list that Edmund Kuras used to secure his Nationals victory, I do know this card very well. And with my obsessive-compulsive tendencies to avoid bad matchups, I also know all of the horrible ways my favorite card of the format could collapse. Given all that, its win in U.S. Masters surprised even myself, who found that double Keldeo Darkrai was just too much of a hurdle.

However, anyone who wasn’t ready for Accelgor at Nationals will be every bit ready for it at Worlds. Here are some ways to deal with it with all of the major decks:

Plasma vs. Accelgor

Of all the major decks, Plasma has the biggest hurdles to overcome against Accelgor. Its Item-reliance, inability to break out of paralysis lock without a two-retreat Keldeo, and heavy EX exchange make it an unfavorable matchup. And while Ryan Sabelhaus’ list has an interesting enough way to beat it through sheer force (see above), that’s still not enough to secure a win against it.

As a result, you may need to resort to some more unconventional strategies:

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This card may not have crossed your mind in a while.

1. Keldeo-EX + Skyarrow Bridge. When you cannot use your Float Stones to Rush in and retreat for free, you very well may lose the game by being unable to evacuate out of Deck and Cover lock. With Skyarrow Bridge, though, you can just attach one of your Blends, Prisms, or Plasmas, and go right ahead with your merry business. This also has the secondary benefit of bouncing their Tropical Beach, making your N’s stronger late game.

2. Keldeo-EX + more DCEs. Just like above, but executed without having to spend space on a Stadium that’s not very useful in your other matchups, or at the very least redundant to what Float Stone does. I would highly recommend running two or even three DCE in any Lugia EX build you use, and with two Keldeo, you could very well secure your break from the lock.

3. Audino BCR. Although this is arguably the worst of the three, it’s the tech that’s most easily splashed into the list with the least expense on your consistency and/or space. Sometimes, all it takes to beat Accelgor is just one of these buggers, and their entire setup is devastated.

Of course, your other big archetypes have options, too…

Darkrai vs. Accelgor

Darkrai already has its answer: Two Keldeo! I am still convinced that Darkrai with double Keldeo goes a positive matchup against Gothitelle/Accelgor, as the core premise of the deck, locking, is devastated by a couple girly-looking ponies. Furthermore, in a high-quality field like Worlds, playing hate cards for the Darkrai matchup such as Max Potion and Mr. Mime will only take away from Accelgor’s ability to lock in the late game, trading in precious consistency space for tech.

Blastoise vs. Accelgor

Above all, Blastoise just needs to set up. Wartortle does help you combat the Gothitelle threat, but at the end of the day, you won’t win without getting four Energy onto your Keldeo being able to swing away each turn. I lost round one of the tournament to Top 8 finisher Sean Foisy because I didn’t see my Keldeos when I needed them to, let alone my Energy or draw.

Specifically, my recommendations are two-fold: first, run at least 14 Energy (11 Water and 3 Lightning); and second, run at least 15 Supporters, two Beach, and a Computer Search. This should help you set up, get a steady stream of fuel onto Keldeo with or without Magic Room lock, and never lose steam in the late game to anything else. It’s your judgment call whether or not to run Wartortle, but even in an Accelgor-heavy metagame, you could survive without it.

Also, interesting tidbit about the Blastoise/Accelgor matchup: by running more Tropical Beach, you arguably hurt your chances of winning by producing one more dead card against them – not what you want under Magic Room lock!

Accelgor is only able to thrive in a world where evolutions aren’t plentiful. Here’s a Blastoise list that should have an exceptionally good matchup against any ‘Gor list, and yet hang with the rest of the field…

Pokémon – 13

4 Squirtle BCR
1 Wartortle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR
3 Keldeo-EX
2 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

Trainers – 33

4 N
4 Professor Juniper
4 Skyla
2 Colress
1 Bianca

 

4 Rare Candy
4 Superior Energy Retrieval
3 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
2 Pokémon Catcher
1 Computer Search

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 14

11 Water
3 Lightning

RayEels vs. Accelgor

Unlike most decks, RayEels really doesn’t have to struggle much to combat Accelgor. All it needs are some tech cards that are good against the rest of the field: Raikou-EX, Eelektross DEX, and Keldeo-EX. With Raikou, you can have an extra out to wrecking a turn two Gothitelle or Accelgor attack; with Eelektross, you can have late game strength in disruption, as well as evolve your way out of a lock; and with Keldeo, you have a second option in breaking the lock through Rush In.

My personal list of RayEels is nothing unique (and hence not worth talking about), but I run single copies of both Raikou and Keldeo. I would not recommend the Eelektross due to how horrible it can be in the early game, but if you want to use this deck and expect heavy Accelgor, it’s a good option.

All That’s Good… Now Should I Use Accelgor?

While you may be in one of the above camps, doing whatever you can to beat down that weird ninja thing, you also might be contemplating using Accelgor yourself. Should you actually use it, though?

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Accelgor may have made its last hurrah.

In two words: “probably not.” Accelgor is a fantastic deck and card, but if the hate isn’t there in time for Worlds, I’d be shocked beyond belief. Most people at Nationals did not use Accelgor, so as a play-style preference would rather be able to beat it rather than switch to it. This will in turn make your day a lot harder, so I’d be very cautious in choosing this deck.

Additionally, mirror tends to be horrible. Even as early as last year, my Nationals Swiss round against Harrison Leven when we were both using the build with Mew Prime, Chandelure NVI, and Vileplume UD was very luck-based, depending on who got the right card when. For the current format, it’s even worse, as the person who lands the Gothitelle fastest should secure the victory in most games.

Finally, let’s observe some interesting history. Last year, both Klinklang and Accelgor had a very powerful showing… but were, save for a few strong players, nowhere near the top tables at Worlds. This year, Klinklang and Accelgor again did very well, but they are both decks that rely heavily on a favorable metagame, and suffer when players use decks that don’t fall into their traps (EX attackers against Klinklang, and paralysis lock for Accelgor).

For those reasons, I’d actually steer clear of Accelgor unless it’s the one deck you’re dead-set on playing, and have the most experience with.

P.S. Much of this doesn’t hold true for the Juniors or Seniors. I’ve found that double Keldeo is surprisingly uncommon in those age groups, and the usage of favorable matchups like Plasma and Klinklang are surprisingly common. I don’t know if I’d suggest it for Juniors, especially due to how much harder it is than most decks, but it does look like a nice play for a Senior who has the advanced concepts of probabilities, playing from behind, and overall deckbuilding on his or her side.

What Does All This Mean for Worlds?

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I forsee… lots of Plasma.

Put simply, our four major decks have come down to two: Accelgor and Plasma. I fully expect a resurgence of both Blastoise and Darkrai for Worlds, but it will likely be meager in comparison to what I predict to be Accelgor’s downfall, and Plasma’s final claim to dominance.

Naturally, then, I forecast that Plasma will take both the Juniors and Masters divisions. The things that make Accelgor a stronger play at Nationals (lower skilled-to-unskilled player ratio, less teching for matchups, less consistent builds, free wins via byes, etc.) will no longer be present, whereas everything that made Plasma good will remain the same.

However, I also forecast that Accelgor will win Seniors, due to my earlier comments about less unfavorable tech, as well as more favorable matchups. It could win Juniors as well, but I can’t imagine many young players – no matter how good they are – having the patience for something like a lock deck.

That said, the metagame is blown open right now for fringe things like my baby Flareon to do well. I may be a mostly neutral party to the outcome of Worlds, but I’d shed a tear or two if someone actually got this printed!

Beyond Worlds: Plasma Blast and Battle Boost

Unless something strange happens, my season is 90%+ over. However, for myself and everyone else who falls into that camp, that doesn’t mean we can’t start musing about how Plasma Blast will impact things! Listed below are some of my favorite cards, as well as how to make them as playable as possible come next season.

NOTE: As of writing, we do not know what the 2013-2014 modified format will include. For that reason, I will avoid speculating on decks or combos involving BLW-NXD cards too much, except those reprinted in the EX Battle Boost expansion. I do, however, reserve the right to speculate as much about the contents of Plasma Blast itself!

Cradily

In my opinion, Life Explosion – that is, an attack which lets you automatically place Stage 2 Pokémon into play – is the sort of move that makes this game to play. With tons of options and attackers, you could easily tech in a variety of great guys to a ‘Dilly deck. They include:

  • Hydreigon DRX 97, for moving around Energy;
  • Leavanny NVI/Battle Boost, for shutting off Weakness;
  • A bunch of Serperior DRX, to heal 20-40 off your board a turn with little setup required;
  • Reuniclus DRX, to avoid the hassle of starting (and dying) with lone Solosis;
  • Vileplume BCR;
  • Salamence DRV;
  • Dragonite PLF;
  • … and the list goes on.

The point I’m getting at is that Cradily’s potential is limitless, much the same way that Mew-EX’s is.

Virizion EX

While not the death of Hypnotoxic Laser, Virizion-EX’s Spring Breeze Ability is a welcome addition to any deck running Grass Energy. Furthermore, its Emerald Slash attack is some of the best Energy acceleration in the new format, and with a Team Plasma Badge attached to it, you could be charging benched attackers up as early as turn one.

Genesect EX

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Prepare to be bugged.

This is the one true star of Plasma Blast, and the card that’s garnering all of the hype from it. With a simple Plasma Energy attach, you’re in access of the effect of a Pokémon Catcher, and with GGC, you can deal a decent 100 to the Active and a cool 20 to a Benched Pokémon. While I don’t love the attack by itself, I personally love it in tandem with a Catcher or the Red Signal Ability. It gets better when charged up by Virizion-EX, and yet again better if said Virizion was able to attack turn one thanks to Plasma Badge and Colress Machine.

Also, it should be noted that Genesect EX enjoys exclusive access to two ACE SPECS: G Scope and G Booster. Because Genesect’s Ability is as good as a 100 snipe in its own right, I’d instantly recommend you not run G-Scope, but instead go with the sickeningly good 200 damage potential of G-Booster. Only the most unusually teched Genesect lists would go with anything different, so I’d expect G-Booster to be staple in ‘sect builds by day one.

Combine the above, and you have for what could be one of the sickest decks out there. As a result, people are now hoarding Victory Piece, Victini-EX, and Ho-Oh EX, anticipating that those will be the saviors against the rotten bug Pokémon. However, between Water Pokémon and Victini techs of its own, Genesect will be a frightening deck in less than two months.

Mesprit

No Weakness when all three of Mesprit, Azelf, and Uxie are in play? I approve! However, finding a partner agreeable to all of that extra setup may be difficult. Perhaps it could be a certain someone starting with a “G” and ending with an “enesect-EX”?

Azelf

It’s much better being used as a necessary piece to Mesprit’s grander , but Azelf’s Psy Jamming attack is no slouch, either. When opponents stockpile a ton of Energy on all of their Pokémon, and they happen to be Specials, Azelf and Psy Jamming let you effectively send off some to “all” of an opponent’s Energy to various new sources – usually one person.

So despite Mesprit being the “better” twin, don’t mistake the formidable effect that moving 6-8 Special Energy could have on a game.

Sigilyph

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This card sure is handy.

90 HP…one Psychic and a couple Colorless for 70. No big deal, right?

Well, except for the fact that you can dump FOUR TOOLS on this guy. This in its own right makes the card very deck-worthy: you can have a sturdy an insurmountable 4 Eviolite Sig; a Sig that bites back with 3 Rocky Helmet and 1 Rock Guard; a Sig that employs the valuable Silver Bangle and Silver Mirror of this set; or even one that uses a mixture of all the above. I would HIGHLY recommend keeping an eye on this card, because with the right release of Tools, you could have a severely powerful attacker on your hand.

Additionally, a totally different way you could run Sigilyph is as support for Cofagrigus DEX. Its Chuck attack is extremely powerful when played right, so perhaps you can use Sigilyphs as walls and general Tool holders until you’re ready to return them all with Plasma Blast Masquerain’s Ability, and then Chuck for an absurd amount of damage.

Archeops

While it may not be worth the setup of, say, Cradily, FF for 100 has never, ever been bad, making it at least moderately playable. I’m afraid of that ugly Grass Weakness, though, but that hasn’t stopped other great cards like Terrakion, so we’ll see what the future holds in store for it.

Houndoom

There are better Team Plasma counters this set that splash into a whole lot more. See below for more discussion on that, but all in all I’d suggest you pass.

Jirachi EX

While its Ability is great for consistency early game, everything else about it is just…terrible. We actually had a very similar card to this in an older format: Lapras LM, which did the same thing but for the discard instead. Being able to Level Ball out of a terrible hand is a lifesaver, which Lapras proved time and time again in the face of Rocket’s Admin. However, Jirachi’s struggles against N aren’t worth the two free Prizes to Genesects, Raikous, and Pokémon Catchers.

Dialga EX

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It’s about time Dialga was playable again.

Durant NVI’s vile soul lives on in the equally vile Dialga EX. Both its Reverse Edge and Time Progression attacks play a very synergetic role in helping you deck out the opponent. I worry about getting enough Plasma Energy onto the Dialga, but once you do, tearing apart the opponent should be quite effective.

Unlike Durant, though, this card can actually win on Prizes. To complement both aspects of it, I’d likely opt to run Life Dew in a Dialga deck.

Palkia EX

Unimpressive and has serious struggles against its fellow Dragons. I can only really see it doing well in some unusual hit-and-run deck.

Haxorus

Not since Machamp Stormfront’s Take Out have we had an automatic knock-out effect from a card, but Haxorus’ Strike of the Champion attack lets it get rid of Plasma Pokémon with extreme prejudice. However, unlike Take Out, Haxorus is done right, with a good first attack that deals unlimited damage and a better second attack that is given a balanced Energy cost.

Buzz on the web right now is that Altaria DRX is a good play with it. While I’m inclined to agree that an extra 20 damage really puts this card over the top in combatting non-Plasma Pokémon, all of that space (4-7 spots!) can drag down your consistency pretty heavily. To make matters worse, you probably lack the raw consistency of Gabite.

Could it be part of a solo deck? Maybe some weird Altaria/Gabite hybrid? Tune in to a future article to find out!

Porygon-Z

I love the idea of moving around Plasma Energy, especially given the power of some interactions it has with cards. However, I am concerned that setting up a Stage 2 Pokémon just to do it may not be worthwhile. Perhaps it would work well with the above-mentioned Dialga EX.

Chatot

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This card could make some noise.

For the most part, this card will not see much play. But as you can plainly see throughout this article’s discussion of Plasma Blast, this expansion heavily emphasizes Tools. And what better way to counter them than just… discard them all? That’s exactly what False Information does, and why you should keep Chatot on your radar for now.

Aside from that, it’s also an extremely effective counter to Garbodor decks, and is arguably a better use of deck space than Tool Scrapper because you can reuse it.

Silver Bangle

Tired of Pokémon-EX dominating the field? Maybe an extra 30 damage will help. Dropping four on a Sigilyph to 1HKO an EX sounds pretty fun! But this seems particularly useful for Haxorus. With one Energy attachment, you’re dealing 70 damage, and with a second metal, you’re dealing 110 – just enough to 2-shot any EX in the format.

Silver Mirror

While Accelgor has proven this format that Plasma is not insurmountable in the least, the higher-ups at Pokémon Card Laboratories deemed it necessary to keep them further in check via Silver Mirror, which shuts off all damage and effects done by Team Plasma Pokémon to whatever it is attached to. It frustrates me to know that this card, while having its own place in the metagame, does nothing to curtail the true strength of Plasma, which is explosive turn one and two starts.

Nevertheless, Silver Mirror is a GOOD way to encourage the use of non-EX, non-Plasma Pokémon again, and can open up a wide range of possibilities in the near future.
And on that note, Silver Mirror works beautifully with…

Reversal Trigger

Reversal Trigger is an interesting search option for Plasma, boosting the consistency of the deck in a reactive sort of way via trading a knockout for a free Computer Search effect. My main issue with Reversal Trigger is that it’s a deck space used to go against the fundamental aspect of nearly all Plasma decks, which is to outspeed and outlast the opponent. While free searches help a ton in the “outlast” part, I could see having a hand clogged with this get in the way of a stronger start. It also doesn’t help that people would tend to run Float Stones in these spaces.

Perhaps a few of these would have a place in a Ryan Sabelhaus-type build?

Iris

Iris is the Greek word for “rainbow.”

This is a great come-from-behind card, as well as an exciting way to close out games. However, there’s a good chance it will be discarded during the initial setup phase of a game, so it is strongest when paired with cards like Dowsing Machine.

For now, I cannot say with any sort of confidence what this card’s presence should be in the metagame, if there even is one, but I love the idea of dropping a couple copies in non-EX decks (assuming I have the space). This lets you catch up with powerful EX attackers at virtually no cost to you.

Caitlin

This Supporter is a mixed bag: on one hand, it is extremely useful when your hand is large and helps cycle out garbage to let you orchestrate a perfect combo of plays; on the other hand, it’s horrible when you get N’d down to one in the late game, and are struggling just to establish a board again. Like Iris, I could see this being a 2-of in some decks, but for entirely different reasons related to setting up stage two Pokémon or elaborate combos.

What would make me hesitant to run this card in the first place, let alone four copies of it, is ultimately the fact that you never enjoy a net gain on cards; in fact, by using your Supporter for the turn on it, you actually “lose” cards! Therefore, I’d only consider running Caitlin if you already feel very (and I mean VERY) secure about your draw/search power prior to its inclusion.

Scoop Up Cyclone

Put in a vacuum, this card is actually really good. It is a fantastic addition to wall decks, and as good as Life Dew is in denying Prizes. Accordingly, it complements Pokémon-EX very well, and is a sort of way for EX’s to strike back against all this hate against them. Unfortunately, most decks seem to rely on one or two ACE SPEC already, and would therefore see the use of Scoop Up Cyclone as not preferable. In other decks, the effect is redundant in the face of Max Potion or even Gold Potion, but without the added “cost” of returning the card to your hand.

Finally, it offers none of the consistency or versatility that Computer Search or Dowsing do, which troubles me as someone who not only loves consistency in decks, but gets burned pretty badly when I stray from it.

Does Scoop Up Cyclone have a place in our metagame? I believe so, but it likely involves EX’s or Pokémon with comes-into-play Abilities.

Suicune

Joining Sigilyph DRX and Klinklang PLS is the newest anti-EX attacker, Suicune also enjoys the Safeguard Ability. Unlike Sigilyph, however, it is much less vulnerable to Hypnotoxic Laser with an extra 10 HP, and unlike Plasma Klinklang, you don’t have to get an elaborate Stage 2 out into play. But what makes this whole class of anti-EX card far stronger is its use of Silver Mirror. Now you suddenly have two favorable matchups in the form of EX cards and Plasma cards, which will comprise a very large amount of the field in the near future.

Kyurem EX

Whether this card comes out as a part of the set or a concurrent promotional, I do not know. However, it really isn’t so horrible in the face of most of its other versions. While Black Ballista should still remain king, a mono-Water build of Blastoise featuring it as a secondary attacker to Keldeo would actually be very intriguing.

Conclusion

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Now this is a strange spot.

As always, thanks for reading! With this strange spot in this season, I wanted to write something that all Underground readers could enjoy, but that always runs the risk of not helping no one group out in particular.

But for anyone looking to do well in the Last Chance Qualifier or the main event, there are some great resources on this site in both Underground and the main section. Just remember that your playing will need to be as tight as it can be, and that both of these events have a very dense concentration of skilled players.

Good luck everyone!

-John


…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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