Breaking Down the Hype: How Does “the Yeti” Address Movements in the Format?

abominable snowman
“The Yeti”

As the City Championship tournament cycle begins to wind down, players around the country and world are beginning to ask themselves what deck is the play for various Regional Championships.

Although the new Regionals format (spreading Regionals out for three weeks rather than just the same weekend) will surely impact deck selection each week as we saw with the rise of the Brandon Smiley’s “Big Tex” deck during Fall Regionals, some decks are sure to see heavy play each week. I think most of us can agree Emboar, Empoleon, Blastoise, Virizion/Genesect variants, Darkrai variants, and some form of Plasma will be the main decks in play leading into Regionals this winter.

Today, I want to spend some time dissecting a deck that’s been getting a lot of online hype in recent weeks. Commonly known as the Yeti (or Snorbax in some areas), the Lugia/Snorlax variant of Plasma has picked up quite a bit of steam among several online forums.

The deck is reminiscent of some early Plasma lists that focused on Thundurus with Colorless attackers. These lists were quickly tossed aside after testing, as the common Thundurus/Kyurem/Deoxys variants were much superior. The Colorless variants struggled from high Retreat Costs (leading to dependence on Float Stone to an even greater extent than standard lists), high attack costs, and the lack of a truly strong non-EX attacker at the time (as Snorlax was simply too awkward to consistently play).

So, what’s changed?

Effects of the Rule Changes

I’m sure no one will be surprised to hear the answer to that question: rule changes. Post November 8th, many openly questioned what Plasma would look like in the new format without the ability to attack first turn. The Lugia/Snorlax deck has become an answer to that question. Before I break down how it fits the new format, first let’s recap some take-aways that I’ve found to be generally true since the new rule changes.

1. Non-EX based decks are more viable.

As shown by decks such as Empoleon and even most Ho-Oh EX variants, trading one for two in a format without reliable gust abilities is simply really strong. If you can build a deck based on non-EX attackers with any semblance of consistency, you can usually have a decent chance.

The catch to that statement is that most non-EX decks are pretty inconsistent. Empoleon’s Diving Draw helps to solve this, and I believe that’s one of the reasons the deck has been so successful thus far.

2. Switch card counts have fallen.
Switched out for other cards.

Switch effects, which were played in 5-6 counts (including both Switch and Float Stone), have fallen significantly. Most decks only play 3-4, some even less.

Additionally, unlike the previous format, where almost all decks used the Switch card to get a switching effect, the new rule changes have brought Escape Rope to the forefront. Several decks take advantage of Escape Rope’s combination of Switch and a soft gust effect to help mitigate the loss of Pokémon Catcher.

3.gust effects are less common and thus more powerful.

Gust has always been an incredibly strong effect. Now that Pokémon Catcher itself has been errata’d into a flip, most players have rightly dropped it from lists. However, several hard gust effects still exist in the format. Realistically, the gust effect is almost universally seen with Genesect EX’s Red Signal Ability, but Bright Look Ninetales is also a potential option.

Regardless of how you gust, if you manage to use a gust effect, it’s become substantially more valuable, as players dedicate less of their deck to countering gust effects, allowing you to maximize your ability to take advantage of using them.

4. Bench-sitting techs are viable.

Since gust effects are less common, many people have been testing out cards that would never see play before. Dusknoir has migrated into Darkrai decks. Mr. Mime is almost a universal stable. Palkia can Strafe to a Safeguarder and not fear Pokémon Catcher. Electrode gained power. Anything that can be helpful and just take up a Bench slot has become at least worthy of testing in your deck.

5. Safeguard is a really strong Ability.

Not being able to Catcher around the Safeguard Ability means that Suicune and Sigilyph have become incredibly powerful walls. While most decks included a non-EX attacker before the rule changes, this choice becomes more valuable in the current format as Safeguard can easily wall an unprepared deck not able to access gust effects.

Skeleton Yeti List

Of course, this list of conclusions is certainly not all inclusive, and arguably points 2-4 are all different sides of the same die, but now that we’ve thought about the format changes, let’s check out a basic skeleton of the Lugia/Snorlax deck. Afterward I will discuss some of the choices in the skeleton, how the skeleton addresses the movement in the format, and possibly tech options to use to fill the list. It includes 50 cards.

Pokémon – 8

2 Deoxys-EX
2 Thundurus EX
2 Lugia EX
1 Snorlax PLS
1 Genesect EX

Trainers – 28

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

2 Skyla
2 Colress
2 Shadow Triad


3 Ultra Ball
3 Colress Machine
2 Switch
2 Tool Scrapper

1 Max Potion

1 Scramble Switch


2 Frozen City

Energy – 14

6 L

4 Double Colorless
4 Plasma

Now let’s consider our list above about changes in the format, and then point to cards that address the changes we’ve seen in the format in a way that helps this deck succeed.

Why It Succeeds

lugia pokemon silver
Lugia creates a favorable Prize trade.

Since this deck is largely Pokémon-EX, most non-EX decks figure to trade well against this deck. However, Lugia EX prevents this unequal trading with the unique ability Overflow, allowing an extra Prize to be taken on each KO.

Lugia EX’s attack Plasma Gale hits for 120 damage – after adding two Deoxys-EX with the Power Connect Ability, Lugia hits for 140 damage – the most common maximum HP for non-EX cards seen in the meta today (Blastoise and Empoleon primarily). An additional Deoxys-EX added to the skeleton would allow Lugia EX to 1HKO cards such Hydreigon or Emboar.

Lugia EX is often enough to swing entire matchups (most notably Empoleon) from unfavorable to favorable simply by creating an equitable Prize trade.

From a support perspective, Genesect EX’s Red Signal Ability allows the deck to use a gust effect to drag up less than ideal Pokémon or damaged EXs for Lugia to KO in order to maximize Prize trading. Snorlax’s Block Ability allows you to lock a Red Signaled Pokémon Active. Since Switch counts are down, Block has become more effective. Additionally, Snorlax is a potent non-EX attacker – but we’ll get to that. Genesect EX allows no Bench-warming Pokémon to be completely safe. Even the psychological edge of a potential Red Signal can cause plays your opponent may not want to make.

Obviously, Red Signal is a counter to walling with Safeguard, but Snorlax provides a non-EX attacker that will virtually always 1HKO a Safeguard Pokémon (you need 3 Team Plasma Pokémon in play to KO Sigilyph, and four to KO Suicune) without being return KO’d by any Safeguard Pokémon as both Sigilyph and Suicune merely 2HKO a fully powered Snorlax.

Additionally, Snorlax trades incredibly well with Pokémon-EX, as it is capable of maxing out at 200-210 damage (dependent on how many Deoxys-EX are in play) . If it isn’t return KO’d by your opponent, it’s often going to roll right on through for all your Prizes.

The Strategy

For all this talk about how it counters noticeable changes in the format, I haven’t really addressed what exactly the point of this deck is. What is the base strategy?

Simply put, the strategy of the Yeti is to force the opponent into inequitable Prize trading due to your superior set up of attackers.

In practice, this means that Snorlax and Lugia EX are among the best Prize traders in the game, and setting up multiple Snorlax/Lugia EX in concert almost always ensures you have a perfect response to anything your opponent could do and choreograph the Prize trades and KOs turns in advance.

snorlax happy
Snorlax is happy to help.

When played, the deck should prioritize setting up multiple attackers. I won’t spend the time breaking down specific matchups in this article, but with some proper testing, you can soon pick up which attackers are stronger in which matchups. However, the base strategy rarely will change – power up as many attackers as quickly as you can, and then control how the Prizes are traded by planning ahead.

In order to set up multiple attackers, you can use your additional Energy attaching options with Colress Machine and Thundurus EX’s Raiden Knuckle to outspeed your opponent in setup. Generally, you almost always want to simply abandon a Thundurus EX active to begin the game – simply Raiden Knuckle until it dies. Sometimes the game develops in such a way that the Thundurus EX will survive, but don’t retreat just to make sure it does. Giving up 2 Prizes is often vital to ensuring you don’t give up 6.

By this point, you probably have two attackers set up, and you can proceed to promote the appropriate one and trade in a controlled way. You need to plan your turns in advance – you should know what you will be KOing your following turn when you promote the first time.

A quick note for astute readers: You may have noticed that in the introduction, I discussed how one of the previous weaknesses of a Colorless Plasma variant was its reliance on Float Stone, and yet my list contains 0 Float Stone. That might seem confusing, so let’s justify that decision.

When making a decision about whether to play a higher count of Float Stone or Switch, one is basically making a tradeoff decision. Switch is universally a better effect (can get through status, doesn’t use your retreat for the turn), however it can only be used once, while Float Stone can be used infinitely.

As Plasma lists developed, they recognized that one of the primary issues with the deck was its ability to get Catcher-stalled (which was especially true of variants playing a 4 retreat Snorlax). Since every deck was playing 4 Catcher in previous formats, having a “forever” switch for each Float Stone was incredibly valuable, since none of your Pokémon (except Kyurem) would ever want to attach a different Tool anyway.

However, now that Pokémon Catcher has been errata’d, Float Stone is immensely less valuable – you’d rather just play with 3 Switch (including Scramble Switch) to make sure you can get through any potential Laser hazards.

Completing the List

Finally, let’s examine some of additional choices you could make with the skeleton listed above.

Option 1: Thicken Pokémon and Item lines.

team plasma ball plasma freeze plf
Might be a good addition.

The pros of this option are obvious. Typically, consistency is key to a deck’s success, and playing thicker lines will make this deck more consistent for the tradeoff of being less versatile. Most lists tend to make this choice in my experience. It ensures a strong setup, which is vital to success. Just adding more copies of everything in the skeleton will almost always be a good choice.

Option 2: Insert techs.

This option speaks to metagaming. Expect a lot of mirror matches? Maybe 2 Enhanced Hammers could help. Expecting to play Darkrai a lot? Maybe a Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gymline should be in your deck to get some additional damage on the board and give you an option to 1HKO Sableye with Thundurus EX. Virizion-EX/Genesect EX is the deck to beat? It better watch out for your newly inserted Spiritomb to stop Genesect’s 1HKO potential with G Booster.

This is a solid option that only you can decide the value of, as it will be dependent on your own expectations going into the tournament.

Option 3: Some combination of options 1 and 2.

Maybe you want to thicken some of your Pokémon and Item lines, but you need to fit that Spiritomb LTR in anyway. Why not just do both? After some quick testing, you can probably see which Items are most important to your setup, so you can keep those counts higher and take out some cards you find to be fluff for small techs. For smaller tournaments with more defined metagames, this is probably the strongest option for the deck. It will allow it to be both proactive and reactive to the surrounding forces.

Most times when I play the list, I tend to choose option 1. I’m big on consistency, and that’s the best way to make sure I’m going to get my Raiden Knuckle’s flowing. However, after examining your own metagame and conducting your own testing, you might disagree. That’s ok! The best part about Pokémon and other TCGs is that there might not be a right answer – if you put in enough time and get comfortable enough with your list, you will have a fighting chance.

I hope this has helped you to understand the power of the Yeti, and I wish you luck in your upcoming tournaments!

Reader Interactions

28 replies


    You didn’t mention a certain tech. The card is extremely powerful in Yeti. Let me tell a sad story about a man and his obese turtle.

    Last night was a City Championship. I was facing Yeti as Blastoise in the Ro4. I was up 1-0 in the series, and game 2 was 1 prize (me) to 3 prizes. I Black Ballista Thundurus-EX. I had another Black Ballista on the bench, just had to rush in and retreat, no way I could lose. I looked at my field, and all he could really do was play Pokemon Catcher to bring out Blastoise to one shot it, but he’d only get 2 prizes. All of my EXes were full HP.

    He drops Iris. Plasma Gale does 190 damage out of nowhere for the game win. Yep.

    • Alex Olijar  → F0NTAINE

      I actually don’t think Iris is a good play in this deck – hence why it is not mentioned.

      The primary strength of this deck is that it doesn’t NEED to tech to win matchups. Because of this, rarely do you draw wasted cards beyond (maybe) the two tool scrappers, which are obviously necessary for mirrors, especially since Empoleon is very relevant now. Any tech you add lowers the consistency of the deck.

      Iris is 100% a tech card. It’s only relevant in matchups with 180 HP EXs (Knuckle for 30 + Gale for 120 = 150 + two Deoxys at any point is managable – the third deoxys bonus damage can get iffy due to bench issues) or when you have to KO a full health EX – which you already have a tech against (Genesect EX + Signalling retreated EXs).

      I look at it this way: if I am about to Ultra Ball, what cards would I ever discard instead of Iris? In 85%+ of hands, Iris is always going to be the weakest card.

    • Andrew Wester  → F0NTAINE

      I tested Iris extensively. It was far too situational. Really really good if you hit it, but too many times you need to Shadow Triad or Skyla for something else. If you have a superior board position (which you should if you play this deck correctly), Iris shouldn’t be necessary.

    • Rich D  → F0NTAINE

      Iris was used in the build that won at one of the Tennessee cities. He also ran Jirachi EX so he could search it out when he needed it.

      • Alex Olijar  → Rich

        If it worked, great, but I don’t see those techs being positive for the deck in the long haul. I think Iris suffers from an issue we see with Pro Athletes all the time. For example, Tom Brady is seen as a winner who is clutch – yet he’s played terrible in almost every losing effort in the playoffs for the Pats since 2007 – but we just remember the good times.

        Same with Iris to me. You never forget the game she wins, but you never remember the ten games she’s a dead card.

  2. Alex H

    Hey Alex, you played this at last City Champs right? Yeah you faced Roger in Top 8 and I was that kid playing Cherrim in Top 4. Great Article Alex looking forward to more writing from you in the future.

    • Alex Olijar  → Alex

      Yeah, I did. We played 3 terribly stupid games in Cut that I would love to have a redo of. Thanks!

      • archerdragon  → Alex

        It’s ok. Just have fun. Lots of pokemon players dream of going to worlds, some don’t, but either way, have fun!

    • Andrew  → Alex

      Cherrim? Was it in Virizion/Genesect or something else? Sounds interesting, there’s so many times with Virgen that I want a potion, and a continous old school potion from a 1-1 slot doesn’t seem like a bad use of space.

  3. DrMime

    Outstanding article!
    How do you feel about using Prism Energies instead of some Lightning? You have some attackers that could use it (Deoxys, even Genesect) and I could think of even crazier ideas. (1x Moltres?) In your opinion, does it not help enough to justify the problem w/ E-Hammer?
    And how do you feel about this decks consistency & vulnerability to N? Can I play this crazy deck safely over a long tournament without pulling my hair out?

    • Alex Olijar  → DrMime

      Any prism/lightning split is almost entirely dictated by the amount of Darkrai variants (specifically Darkrai/Garbodor) that you expect to find at the tournament. Overall, I think that any split is a total meta call, because the situations you actually “need” prisms are fairly rare. If you can see enough value in your meta from the prisms (honestly, they mostly serve a purpose in the VirTwo matchup from my experience), then I would go ahead and switch a few lightning out, but I don’t think it’s going to functionally change the deck in any real way. It’s just a tech. You still almost always want Snorlax or Lugia.

      The consistency of the deck is almost entirely related to how you build from the skeleton that I have posted in my opinion. I put the cards I would NEVER cut from the deck. They are minumums. That being said, they are just that – bare essentials. It obviously benefits a lot from some +1s on some of those cards. I’ve played several versions of lists (ranging from inserting lasers to Ho-oh EX + energy switch), but generally speaking, the deck will be consistent. I think it takes a learning curve to play with though, which is a phenomenon that’s causing some players to use the deck as it’s been hyped but perform poorly, and those who started with it early and/or are pretty at picking up untested lists continue to do well.

      For example, in my area, I’ve seen numerous players pick it up after Kevin Baxter won a city or two with the earliest version of this deck (which is why I personally call it Snorbax). However, the only people I’ve seen cut with it so far (albeit in only going to three cities of about eight or nine in my area) are Kevin Baxter, myself, and a friend of Kevin’s who was using Kevin’s list for the most part. We aren’t necessarily more skilled players (well Kevin is), but we have some more experience with playing the deck (I’ve been using it almost exclusively for all my cities, just experimenting with counts and techs) that I think proves valuable. I see people aggro-Lugia T2 if possible for example, and that’s just simply not a good play in many matchups. It’s really easy to overextend resources with this deck because it CAN T2 Plasma Gale (or even Teampact) a number of ways, but generally that’s not going to be ideal. I almost missed cut by overextending in round four in my last City. I went for a T2 ko on a Darkrai with Teampact and came a card shot, and I ended up draw passing for the next five or so turns. The deck is fickle when you play it incorrectly.

    • Alex Olijar  → Andrew

      Thanks, that means a lot coming from you. I’ve always enjoyed reading your stuff, and feel like you always have a really good grip on the metagame.

  4. Marcello Bosio

    Great article on my favourite deck. I used to play Iris in it, but I agree that it hurts consistency and in the end it’s not worth it. Spiritomb lowers Snorlax’s damage output, so I found that I prefer playing against VirGen without it. Anyway, I’m going to -1 Plasma Ball +1 Ultra Ball because of this article! :)

  5. archerdragon

    Amazing article, espeacially because I have never heard of the yeti until now.

  6. arceus

    i play this deck alot but i like to play 3 deoxys and no genesect i also play 2 escape robe beacause it works great with lugia

    • Tim Long  → arceus

      I agree that three deoxys has some nice math (F. City 20 + Lugia 120 + 3 Deoxys 30= 170) but I don’t think that this is the deck for escape ropes. They can be useful early game when you can pull a T2, maybe T1 Plasma Gale and hit just the right poke on a near empty bench, but in my tests, I’ve found that escape rope is counter-intuitive to much of your Lugia strategy in the mid-late game, when you are generally 2-shotting stuff with thundy/other attacker/ frozen city and Lugia, making your opponent WANT to get stuff switched out.

      Genesect is a necessary inclusion to this deck. Just look at the way catcher dominated that last format, and, being one of a few decks capable for running a gust effect, Genesect gives you an edge, particularly with following up KOs with your Lugia. Also, in decks running prism energy, he provides a decent secondary attacker, with snipe damage to put pokes into Lugia range, as well as OHKOing Keldeo ex.

  7. animus303

    What about a 3-3 line of Evee and Umbreon? That extra HP boost is nice for Lugia I imagine so he can’t get OHKO’ed.

  8. Stanley Chappy Chaplin

    You need to update Spiritombs set to LTR not PLB

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