Saturday - February 16th, 2013 @ 8 PM PST - By: Water Pokémon Master
Several of our forum mods and members have gotten together over the past two weeks to write this article about Plasma Storm‘s top cards. Thanks goes to Alex, Blah, Celebi23, Delta, Dmaster, EXdarkrai01, Nigel, Riskbreakers, RogueChomp, Rummage, Serperior, and Unsheathed for writing such a detailed article! To discuss their article, check out this forum thread!
It’s that time in the Pokémon cycle again. The villainous team theme expansion is back! Team Rocket, Aqua, Magma and Galactic had their time in previous seasons and made a profound impact on their respective metas. This time around, will the introductory cards for the 5th Generation’s villainous team, Team Plasma, fare as well in the format as past teams did in their formats? Or, will the non-Team Plasma cards from this set make a larger impact on the meta? Several members of the PokéBeach TCG Staff will now offer their opinions of some of the more notable cards of this new set and what impact will they have. So here it is, PokéBeach’s Plasma Storm set review!
Who ever thought this card could be good at all? At first glance, it looks pretty terrible. It’s first attack is Hooligans Jin & Cas in attack form, allowing you to flip a coin, and if heads, you get to shuffle three random cards from your opponents hand back into their deck. It’s neat, but not really competitive. Its second attack doesn’t seem all that great either, 30 damage, and with a flip you get to choose any special condition and afflict it on the Defending Pokémon. Again, it’s cool, but doesn’t really have any competitive use. Taking a quick overview of its stats, with a dreadful 90 HP and two retreat, it’s not hard to see why this card could be considered complete garbage. So why are we mentioning it? Surprisingly enough, this card had some success in Japan and actually came Top 4 in Japan’s Battle Carnival, similar to a Regionals in the U.S. It was played in a deck that used a similar strategy to Sablelock a long time ago. Using Ghestis, (a card that we unfortunately did not receive in Plasma Storm which lets you look at your opponent’s hand, shuffle all Item cards in their hand back into their deck, and draw cards equal to the number of item cards you shuffled back) Amoonguss and Victini, you could mess with your opponent’s hand and try to deny them as many cards as you could. After doing so, you could use Watchog from Emerging Powers to look at the top 5 cards of your deck and rearrange them in any order, stopping your opponent from drawing anything useful. The deck also used Mew EX so that it didn’t have to switch between Amoonguss and Watchog constantly, and because it didn’t matter to this deck that Mew was an easy double prize. After setting up the lock, you could either use your opponent’s attacks with Mew, Amoonguss’s second attack, or Watchog’s attack to take all of your prizes while your opponent sits and watches helplessly as he draws dead for the rest of the match because of Watchog. This strategy combined with other disruption cards such as Crushing Hammer and Hypnotoxic Laser actually made a pretty decent deck. However, since we didn’t get Ghestis, this deck takes a severe hit in terms of its potential. It has to rely on Amoonguss alone to deplete your opponent’s hand and it makes the deck much slower and trickier to use, not to mention you need to flip heads with his attack, despite the use of Victini. That’s not to say it’s completely useless though; it could still be a interesting and fun rogue to try out. If you’re looking for a fun (maybe not that competitive) deck that can annoy and disrupt your opponent, then Amoonguss may just be able to satisfy that wish.
It’s nice to see Infernape back after he dominated in Rising Rivals alongside his trusty partner Luxray GL LV.X. In Plasma Storm, the Flame Pokémon is also a part of Team Plasma, which will no doubt give Infernape room for testing in a Plasma-themed deck in the future. Aside from the sweet border and Plasma stamp, not much is going for Infernape. Infernape sits at 130 HP, a below-average Hit Point count for Stage 2 Pokémon. Its first attack, Torment, is interesting. It deals 30 for a single Energy of any type and prevents your opponent from attacking with an attack of your choice. This is excellent against Darkrai-EX and Keldeo-EX because they have only one attack (Night Spear and Secret Sword, respectively). Thus, you can keep your opponent from attacking at all. Syke. With their Abilities, which allow for easy retreating, Torment will be doing anything but torment your opponent. Keldeo-EX decks will laugh as they drop another Keldeo-EX, Rush In with the Benched one, and then Rush In again with their once “tormented” Keldeo-EX. The most you have done that turn was deal 30 damage. Moving onto its second attack, Malevolent Fire, you can deal 120 damage for two Energy. This looks pretty good, until you realize you’ll be discarding all of your Energy attached to Infernape. Not so hot, even when you can’t OHKO Blastoise or Terrakion. Moving on downward, we see the Weakness, Resistance, and Retreat Cost. Infernape’s free Retreat Cost is nice, but the glaring Water-type Weakness spells doom for the monkey. If Keldeo even has a single Water Energy, Infernape is done for. You’ve burned a Skyla and a Rare Candy and two turns charging up Infernape only to get KO’d in one hit. And for only dealing 120, it doesn’t seem worth it. And unfortunately for this guy, it isn’t. Infernape seems like it can be a possible contender in the metagame from afar, but its stats just don’t add up effectively.
With the release of Plasma Gale, we have yet another very frail, yet very powerful Pokémon-EX. Victini-EX boasts 110 HP with a Weakness to Water-types. Some would see the low HP and Water Weakness, and never think twice about this card. What Victini-EX does have to offer is two game-breaking attacks. The first one, Turbo Energize, allows you to search your deck for 2 Basic Energy and attach them to your Benched Pokémon for a single Fire Energy. This is an extremely powerful form of energy acceleration, because not only do you have 3 Energy on your field by the time your opponent gets to draw his or her first card, but you get to search your deck for them! There are never consistency issues with getting those 2 Energy to attach on the very first turn of the game. Another amazing thing about Turbo Energize is that it doesn’t specify Energy type. As long as you’re grabbing Basic Energy, you can attach it with Turbo Energize, making Victini-EX a fairly versatile form of strong early-game Energy acceleration. Victini-EX’s second attack, Intensifying Burn, does 50 damage and 50 more if the Defending Pokemon is a Pokémon-EX for a Fire and a DCE. Not horrible, but not worth 3 Energy on a 110-HP Pokémon-EX. The thing that makes Victini-EX so powerful early game, and makes Intensifying Burn a worthwhile attack, is a brand new ACE SPEC from Plasma Storm known as Victory Piece. It is a Pokémon Tool and while it is attached to Victini-EX, Victini-EX can use any of it’s attacks at a magnificent cost of zero Energy. With Skyla in our modified format, getting Victory Piece onto Victini-EX turn one is not such a hard thing to do. Hitting your opponent’s EX Pokémon for 100 damage before they even get to draw a card is devastating. Pairing that with an option of fast Energy acceleration, starting the game with a Victini-EX in the active slot is no joke. Now, of course anything so potentially good has to have its drawbacks, and that obviously comes from its low HP. I won’t even touch on its Water Weakness, because at 110 HP, Keldeo-EX knocks it out before Weakness! Victini-EX is definitely one of the strongest starters in our current format; it has amazing Energy acceleration and turn one potential. With the hype that Klingklang and Cobalion-EX from Plasma Storm are receiving currently, i’m sure that Victini-EX will pop its head here and there during States, but the drawbacks to Victini-EX, unfortunately outweigh the strengths of it in the type of format we have. If you are looking to add some Energy acceleration or early game power into your rogue however, Victini-EX may be of some help.
On first glance, Articuno-EX looks broken. Auto-Paralysis in conjunction with a 170-HP tank is nothing to mess around with. However, this card isn’t going to be very good. This is because of the abundance of Keldeo-EX that are going to be played at States and Regionals, which are going to be played alongside Blastoise and as a tech in Darkrai varients because of Hypnotoxic Laser. The reason that Keldeo-EX makes this card bad is because of Rush In, which allows your active Pokémon to easily slip out of Articuno’s paralysis. Also, this card gets OHKO’d by Cobalion-EX, a card that alongside Klinklang, is going to see play at the State Championships. The one thing that I believe is worth noting about this card is it’s fighting resistance, which is great since Fighting is such a dominant type in our metagame. In conclusion, Articuno-EX is a relatively decent card, and would see play if it was introduced in any other format.
Forreal, why does Magnezone always get the cool Poké-Powers, Poké-Bodies, and Abilities? Come on. After being a part of one of the best decks in the previous format alongside the still-popular Eelektrik, Magnezone returns in Team Plasma form. Before we get into its already-hyped Ability, let’s just review everything else. Magnezone has an average amount of HP at 140, meaning that Keldeo-EX won’t be OHKO-ing Magnezone without five Water Energy attached. Magnezone has an awkward attack, Gyro Ball, which is reminiscent of Magnezone from Stormfront, which allows both players to switch Active Pokémon. This can put your opponent in a weird position if he doesn’t have another one of his main attackers Benched and charged up. He will be forced to burn a Skyla/Switch for the turn, which can definitely work in your favor. On the other hand, you probably will end up doing the same too, meaning a lose-lose for everyone. If you’re playing against Darkrai-EX or Keldeo-EX, this hardly even matters, because your opponent will be able to drop a Darkness Energy and Retreat with no cost or Rush In without a problem. With a cost of two Lightning Energy and another of any type, it’s a shame that Gyro Ball isn’t even DCE-compatible. This would make Magnezone a much faster card and simply easier to charge up. We move down to its Weakness, which, in short, is terrible. Landorus-EX and Terrakion are still very popular choices in today’s metagame, and thus will still pose a large threat. Magnezone itself will be difficult to evolve as you watch your Magnemites get OHKO’d by Hammerhead. The Retreat Cost, two Energy, is also lame. But, the opportunity to use Gyro Ball is there so it may not be so bad.
Now let’s talk about Dual Brains. Think about being able to use two Supporters a turn. Consistency would boost incredibly. You’d grab more than enough of the cards you’d need. Life would be pretty good in general when you’re dropping Juniper and then Skyla for the crucial Catcher you didn’t get with the Juniper. Awesome, right? In theory, Dual Brains is legit. Amazing. And it is. Unfortunately, Magnezone as a card is pretty awful. And being a Stage 2 makes it hard to set up efficiently. Magnezone would be targeted for Catcher, and is 2HKO-able. With the amount of Landorus-EX and Darkrai-EX going around, the residual snipe damage from Hammerhead and Night Spear can already put dents into Magnemites early game. You would need to spend a lot of your resources keeping the Magnet Area Pokémon alive after it’s been exposed to a Catcher or two. But, if you get Zone set up, would the speed boost with Dual Brains compensate for a possibly painful slow start? We’ll see.
Along with Magnezone and Rotom, Zapdos-EX is the third lightning Pokémon from the set that has interesting (albeit weak) traits. I feel like the only real value (if you could call it that) with this card lies in its first attack, so let’s look at the other qualities first. 170 HP is pretty standard for an EX, but is a very susceptible magic number when facing against Darkrai-EX decks. Luckily, the amount of HP shouldn’t matter too much if you’re able to flip enough Heads with the first attack. The Weakness is actually not that bad either, to be honest. Lightning is not a very good attacking type right now (considering most are weak to Fighting), so odds are, you won’t be hit for x2 Weakness. The Resistance to Fighting also goes along with that. Being hit for 10 from Landorus-EX is great (factor in Eviolite and it’s essentially doing nothing to Zapdos-EX). The one Retreat Cost is decent enough as you can play Skyarrow Bridge and make it completely free. The second attack, Powervolt, is very underwhelming. 120 damage for four Energies (with one of them having to be a Plasma Energy and two others having to be Lighting) is extremely weak. You can definitely 2HKO EXs, but there is no advantage to using this card in a deck as opposed to say, Zekrom ND or even Raikou-EX as both cards simply outclass this card when it comes to damage, favorable prize trades, and being more efficient attackers. I wouldn’t really recommend playing this card as a tech in a more classic Eelektrik deck, and certainly not a Rayquaza/Eelektrik deck, just because there are much better options for attackers out there.
The first attack is the more interesting one and actually can provide a lot of headache for your opponent. One thing you can do with it is pair it with Eelektrik NV (for obvious reasons) but also include Colress Machine to power it up quickly, Plasma Frigate (if only to get rid of the Weakness since you will probably have Plasma Energy on it anyway), and Victory Star Victini NV. With Victini, your odds increase to around 75% that your opponent won’t be able to attack Zapdos-EX the following turn barring two Pokemon Catchers. This puts a lot of pressure on your opponent as you can usually try to stall with one Zapdos-EX and power up others that can 2HKO their EXs that they have. That being said, I think this deck is surely a long shot and will most likely only have a future as a fun league deck, if anything else.
At first, this card does not look like much. 60 HP, a Fighting-type Weakness, this card just seems like another item on the breakfast menu for Landorus. This may all be true, however Rotom has a wonderful little attack that is called Electrobonus. Electrobonus allows you to discard a lightning energy in exchange for drawing three cards. As many of you are well aware, this attack pairs very well with Eelektrik NVI. Drawing three cards is nice and all, but Rotom serves the dual purpose of improving consistency and putting Lightning energy in your Discard Pile. If all of that isn’t good enough, to put the icing on the cake, Rotom has a single Colorless Retreat Cost. Oh yeah, Electrobonus works with a single Colorless Energy. Rotom can potentially increase the consistency of Eelektrik-based decks further than just using Electrobonus for the first few turns. Electrobonus will allow you to run more Level Ball, instead of having to run high counts of Ultra Ball to ensure that you get the Lightning energy in the Discard Pile. Having Rotom in your deck can also potentially reduce the chances of starting a lone Tynamo at the beginning of the game, which as many Eelektrik players know, is one of the biggest fears of playing Eelektrik. Will Rotom become the staple starter in Eelektrik decks in the future? Only time will tell. Rotom has great potential to improve consistency, however some players may still prefer Emolga DE or using the combination of Tynamo NV #38 and Fliptini. Whether or not Rotom will be the best of the preferred openers in Eelektrik-based decks, it can be a solid choice and will see some play.
After its successful Nationals victory, Klinklang seemed to be the new deck to play. Blend Energy WLFM allowed for a lot of versatility with the player’s Pokémon selection, and opened up opportunities to Max Potion away loads of damage counters. However, with the advent of Dark Explorers, Klinklang was replaced with a more consistent Dark Patch/Hydreigon engine. But with the release of Team Plasma’s Klinklang, we may see a resurrection of the Gear Pokémon. The fact that Klinklang is a Metal-type Pokémon is neither a good or bad thing. None of the Pokémon in the current metagame have a common Weakness to the Metal type, but none have a Resistance. Furthermore, we don’t see many Fire-type Pokémon being played today either. Looking more closely at Klinklang, we notice a Resistance to Psychic-type Pokémon. Sigilyph, the occasionally-played Meloetta, and Mewtwo-EX, (this Pokémon doesn’t even matter, however), will deal 20 less damage to Klinklang. The three-Energy Retreat Cost seems somewhat frightening, but is actually beneficial because of Klingklang’s access to Heavy Ball. You don’t need to discard two cards – just play Heavy Ball and get your Klinklang. Heavy Bullet has a weird Energy requirement, calling for two Metal Energy and a Colorless, and only deals 70 and a possible 20 to another with a coin flip. This is a pretty bad attack when compared to Darkrai-EX’s guaranteed 90 damage and 30 snipe damage.
But it’s the Ability that makes Klinklang great. Plasma Steel can wreak some serious havoc on the playing field. As long as this Klingklang remains on the field, Metal-type Pokémon take zero damage from EX Pokémon. This is excellent. Considering that most of the metagame’s Pokémon are composed of Pokémon-EX, this is really helpful and compensates for Klingklang’s poor attack. If you were to pair this Klinklang with the Klinklang from Black & White, you would have protection from Pokémon-EX and Energy mobilization, allowing for fun things like Max Potion. But this requires some time to set up, because it’s pretty doubtful anyone will be getting T2 Klinklang. While slow early game, Plasma Steel should compensate for a solid late game. Many players are seeing the threat this Ability can pose and are starting to tech Victini to deal 200 while packing their Bench. Another problem with Klinklang is its lack of solid Metal-type Pokémon partners…until Cobalion-EX. But we’ll get into that a little later. Overall, Klinklang may revive the Metal-type Pokémon with its unique Ability. But while a Stage 2 Pokémon, will the trade of time and resources for EX protection be worth it to the player? Klinklang’s viability will be his to decide.
The Iron Will Pokémon returns in Plasma Storm in Pokémon-EX form, and for pretty good reasons. From a distance, this card doesn’t look like anything too special. First of all, it’s of the Metal-type, so we start on a meh level. There aren’t any Pokémon in the metagame that are frightened by Metal-types, but there aren’t many Fire-types that would annihilate them either. Therefore, the Metal-type is a rather safe route to travel on. Cobalion-EX gets a solid 180 HP, meaning Keldeo-EX is going to need to scramble for seven Water Energy before KOing this Sword of Justice. Cobalion-EX’s first attack, Righteous Edge, doesn’t seem like much. A Metal Energy for 30? Landorus-EX does 30 and 30 more to the Bench. Bad deal for Cobalion right? Not necessarily. Cobalion also discards a Special Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon, discarding a vital DCE on a Mewtwo, Blend Energy on a Hydreigon, or a Prism in a random Ho-Oh deck. While situational, Cobalion’s first attack isn’t all bad. The fact that you’re guaranteed to drop damage on T1 is solid, as opposed to Keldeo, Darkrai, Eels decks, where they need a few turns to set up.
Cobalion’s second attack, Steel Bullet, deals 100 damage for two Metal Energy and a Colorless. Oh, this card would be sooooo good had it been a Metal and a DCE. But with what we have, it’s just ok. Steel Bullet bypasses any Ability, effect, Weakness or Resistance, guaranteeing that you’re dropping 100 damage every time you use Steel Bullet. Say, “Good bye!” to Sigilyph. While 100 seems underwhelming to the likes of a charged-up Keldeo and the Darkrai that hits for 90 and 30 to the Bench, Steel Bullet is nice because you even get through Eviolite. Regardless, you’re getting a 2HKO on the metagame as long as you don’t get Knocked Out first. This is raising eyebrows because some players are starting to tech Victini. Often known as “Benchtini,” the player would stack their Bench and Retreat into Victini and swing for 200 damage to Cobalion, no questions asked. Thankfully, this is the only Fire-type threat that seems to be viable in the format right now.
Incredibly for Cobalion, it also has a 20-damage Resistance to Psychic-types, aka Mewtwo-EX and Sigilyph. This is excellent in a format where Mewtwo wars are rampant and you can drop Cobalion to buffer some damage and discard a DCE or two. The Retreat Cost is rather lame. Two Energy is ok, but the Retreat Cost would have been much nicer if it were only one Energy higher, (for access to Heavy Ball), or one Energy lower (for free Retreat courtesy of Skyarrow Bridge). This would make Cobalion-EX perfect companions for, you guessed it, the Klinklang from this very set. The fact that you can deal 100 and take absolutely zero damage from Pokémon-EX is too good to be true. While teching the Klinklang from Black & White, you will not only have Pokémon-EX protection, but Energy mobilization that can be used in conjunction with Max Potion, in the case you find yourself in a random quarrel with Blastoise or Hydreigon. While the deck may seem solid in theory, it’s all a little too much. You need to set up two Stage 2 Pokémon for best results, so it may come down to the player to decide which Klinklang to partner with Cobalion-EX. No matter which Klinklang Cobalion-EX chooses to partner up with, it can be said that Cobalion-EX sheds a new light and provides new perspective for Metal-type decks to come.
The menace returns, except this time, it’s a whole lot meaner. With its pervious version from Boundaries Crossed being one of the worst EXs in the set aside from its playability in Klinklang, the new one from Plasma Storm is one of the best. After taking a quick glance over its attacks and stats, it’s not hard to see why. 180 HP, a relatively good weakness to Dragon, despite the fact that it gives it problems against Rayeels, and an attack that does whopping 200 damage. The best part about this is that it requires 1 Lighting, 2 Water, and 1 colorless to attack, meaning if you put some Lighting or Blend WLFM into a Blastoise deck, it can be easily powered up. It barely even matters that you have to discard three energy after using the attack; that energy can be easily recovered through Energy Retreival and the massive amounts of energy that Blastoise decks tend to run anyway. The combination of Keldeo-EX’s raw power and the massive damage output from Black Kyurem-EX is going to make Blastoise a deck to be reckoned with. The best part of Black Kyurem-EX though is that it finally patches up the worst weak point of Keldeo-EX: Mewtwo. It can easily take care of a Mewtwo in one hit, and after doing so, another Mewtwo can’t really do much to it because it discards most of its energy. It does have a downside to it though; because of it requiring Lighting energy, it means it’s going to take up a lot of space in Blastoise, which is already very tight for space. Not only that, if your opponent Catchers out something on your bench, you’ll have to burn two energy off a Keldeo-EX to retreat it if you want to get Black Kyurem-EX active again, which can be a pain if you’re running low on energy late in the game. For that reason, Keldeo-EX will still probably remain the main attacker in Blastoise decks, but Black Kyurem-EX will most certainly not be ignored. Be prepared to see it in your future matches, because if you’re not, Black Ballista will completely and utterly crush any chance you have of winning.
This card is an interesting EX that this set offers us, and in the eyes of most players, the “least playable” one of them all. However, don’t judge a book by its cover. Let’s delve into this and see what makes White Kyurem-EX a threat. While its first attack does an average amount of damage, the second attack has the capability of doing upwards of 270-320 damage!
An obvious pairing for this would be Reuniclus from Black & White. It can allow you to move your damage around and keep White Kyurem around longer. The unfortunate downfall of Reuniclus is that is has 90 HP. The best partner for this behemoth… is itself. You want them to attack you, and you don’t want them to be able to Pokémon Catcher around it until there isn’t anything left but your lonely EX. If it gets a mere 80 damage on it, it can hit knock out anything in the format that doesn’t have an Eviolite on it. Even if they do have an Eviolite, you only need 100 damage.
Finally, White Kyurem has a trick up its sleeve to make the damage even less, Crystal Edge. If this is attached, then you only need 30 – 50 damage on yourself to OHKO any card in the current format. White Kyurem-EX does have more pitfalls than advantages, but maybe one day it will have its time to shine.
This was the most hyped card in Plasma Storm, and it’s not hard to see why. Taking a look at its stats, it sports a good 180 HP, a pretty good weakness to electric, and a fantastic resistance to fighting. The fact that its colorless means it can also take advantage of Aspertia City Gym, despite it not being able to hit anything for weakness. Its ability is what really makes it stand out though. Being able to take an extra prize card after knocking something out is HUGE in this format, where the 7th prize rule is very prominent and with EX’s that could give Lugia-EX a whopping three prizes. From that alone, Lugia-EX seems like one of the most broken cards in the game. Its attack, however, is where it falls apart. 120 damage seems good at first, but it misses out on many of the big KO’s in the format, and you can’t boost it with Hypnotoxic Laser because if Poison damage knocks out the defending Pokémon, you don’t get an extra prize card. The absolutely worst part about it though is that it requires you to discard a Plasma Energy every time it attacks. This immediately limits Lugia-EX to four attacks per game without the use of gimmicky cards suck as Durant DE, Trubbish NV, or Recycle, all of which are really bad. This means Lugia can only be used as a tech, but since it requires Plasma Energy, it can only be used well in a deck that already utilizes the Plasma engine of Colress Machine/Plasma Energy, otherwise it would be way too clunky. And as of now, nothing Plasma really stands out as being very good. Lugia-EX, the most hyped card in the set, is actually doomed to fail in this format because of that very reason. Right now, Lugia-EX is actually quite bad. It will see more play after next set when a ton of great Plasma Pokemon such as Thundurus-EX and Deoxys-EX come out, but for now, you’re better off veering away from this legendary bird.
Pokémon is starting to put more of the iconic items from the video game into the trading card game. Bicycle is one of them. This card was one of the most hyped up cards during the release of Boundaries Crossed but was held back for some reason. Now that Bicycle has finally been released, competitive players have finally rejoiced. Its effect allows us to draw cards from the deck until the player has four cards in his/her hand. It looks underwhelming at first but there are several reasons why this card can make a spot or two in some decks.
First of all, it’s another option to counter N. N is a very broken card late game when you’re only forced to draw two cards, (or even one card), from the deck and you’re only hope is to pray to topdeck a Supporter card or a Pokémon Catcher for the game. Adding Bicycle in your deck increases the probability that you can draw something to get you out of this tight spot that I’m pretty sure everyone has at least experienced while playing Pokémon.
Second of all, it has synergy with some of the better cards in the format. Most decks right now run Ultra Ball and will have Computer Search/Dowsing Machine as their chosen ACE SPEC. These cards require dropping two cards from your hand to trigger their effect. Playing these cards reduces the hand and in turn makes Bicycle more effective.
Lastly, Bicycle is not a Supporter card. Bicycle is probably the first non-Supporter card that adds cards to your hand since Pokédex Handy910is from years ago. Bicycle, being an Item card also gives its distinctive synergy with Skyla. Most players find problems when they play Skyla and pull a Supporter with its effect. When they do this, they have to wait another turn to be able to use that Supporter. In the current meta, one turn of not being able to draw off Trainer card effects is critical due to the very fast pace of the meta has right now. Bicycle at least solves that problem a bit by allowing the player to draw a few cards off of a Skyla.
As for weaknesses, the card does suffer from the 61st-card syndrome similar to Town Map. Some decks really can’t find a slot to fit this in especially with all the different Trainer/Supporter cards that are also just as broken. Bicycle has to compete against Hypnotoxic Laser, Pokémon Catcher and the various draw Supporters for a spot in a deck. That in itself is a tall order for Bicycle. Another weakness would be that other decks rarely have their hand size down to less than four. People would argue that a draw Supporter would be better.
In conclusion, this card has potential but it has to fight for spots in a deck. However, it really does deserve to be at least a one-off in the deck just in case you need immediate draw to be combo’d with Skyla. This card would have so much more utility had there been more cards like Ultra Ball and Dowsing Machine.
At first glance, this card is amazing. We don’t have enough shuffle/draw Supporters in this format and this one seems over-the-top good. If both players have full benched, you could draw a ridiculous 10 cards off of it. It’s more than even a Juniper will net you. However, at second glance, it suddenly seems terrible. In this EX heavy format, many decks will often play off a small bench, meaning Colress will be weak. On another note, if you draw Colress on your first turn and you don’t have any Supporters, it’s completely useless. You won’t even be able to fill your Bench because you won’t have access to enough cards without a useful supporter. It makes running Colress a double-edged sword, meaning it’s probably best as a 1-2 of tech that can be great late game, but won’t be relied on. Colress is a great card at the right time, but be careful of letting the positive aspects of it cloud it’s extreme disadvantages.
Colress Machine is a great card. It has built-in consistency and is an Item card, so you can play multiples during your turn. Better yet, unlike Dark Patch, you search your deck with Colress Machine, so you can easily power up a Plasma Pokémon turn 1! Currently, the best partner for Colress Machine is Lugia-EX, though it will hardly see any play for States. Next set, however, Colress Machine gains new partners in Thundurus-EX and Deoxys-EX which, alongside Lugia-EX, will come together to form what will possibly be the BDIF. There is one downside to Colress Machine – it only attaches Energy to Plasma Pokémon. Next set, when Plasma Badge comes out, Colress Machine is going to become a whole lot better, providing energy acceleration for any Pokémon in play!
If there was one thing Pokémon liked more than reprinting old cards, it’s reprinting old cards with new names. We have seen this scenario happen with Gust of Wind and Pokemon Catcher, and now we have the “reprint” of Warp Point that we are so excited about: Escape Rope. This is probably one of the more sought after cards in the set and has a spot in almost all decks.
Escape Rope takes off from where its predecessor left off. It serves as a secondary version of Switch. It provides disruption by forcing your opponent to get a new Active out and in a way, can temporarily substitute Pokémon Catcher if we’re talking budget decks. Escape Rope functions as a second Switch with added utility to the board. Not only do you get your Catcher’d bench-sitter out of the Active spot, you can also disrupt the opponent by getting something out from him that could be crucial to his strategy. Escape Rope is a two-in-one card that is very versatile and can provide outs in almost any situation. It will be a given that most decks that run Switch would consider changing them all to Escape Ropes or maintain a balance between the two cards to suit to their situational needs.
It is not all fine and dandy for Escape Rope however. The one major weakness of this card is that its versatility can also backfire and it can provide utility for your opponent by letting him get a free Switch and rearrange his field. Treat this card as something like Colress. When played correctly, it will provide headaches and when played wrong, you’ll just end up helping your opponent more. Oh yeah, if you use Escape Rope when your opponent only has one benched Pokemon in play, it’s similar to a Pokémon Catcher. Use that to your advantage early game to conserve your precious Pokémon Catchers.
Originally from the Pokémon Video Games as a way to regain PP, Ether makes its first appearance in the TCG in Plasma Storm. Before Plasma Storm, there have been many versions of Energy acceleration: Dark Patch, Blastoise, Eelektrik, Ho-oh-EX, and the occasional Emboar BW were all the best ways to get Energy onto the field in order to attack. Ether introduces a new way to accelerate Energy cards. This Item allows you to look at the top card of your deck. If it is a Basic Energy,you attach it to one of your Pokémon. If it isn’t a Basic Energy, you simply return it to the top of your deck. Now, this on its own cannot support a deck at all; it’s way too luck-based and typically decks don’t run more than a maximum of sixteen Energy. However, paired with Lunatone PS, Pokédex from BW, or Musharna ND, Ether suddenly becomes an engine, allowing you to have the ability to attach multiple Energy to your Pokémon from as early as turn one. Ether opens a world full of possibilities to players. Finally, every single deck has the ability to have energy acceleration, increasing its speed rather than having to manually attach Energy turn after turn while your opponent sets up. A turn one Night Spear is even more of a possibility. Turn one or two Land Judgment is within reach, and Klingklang decks can finally have a source of acceleration. But, while Ether sounds godly right now, it has its downsides. Even with the assistance of Lunatone, Pokédex, and Musharna, Ether is still a risky engine – a hit or miss if you will. Late game, it isn’t the most reliable engine, and you only have four of them – four to last you the entire game, unless you run Sableye DE. Ether is one of those cards that you may or may not see in the competitive scene, but it’s always good to be prepared for it.
Ether will be most commonly seen in speed decks, or decks that have a sour matchup against the disruptive Hammertime deck.(Darkrai /Sableye/Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer used in conjunction with Sableye are used to slow down the opponent immensely while charging up main attackers.) You can’t really just add four Ether into a deck: you need some way to make sure you have a Basic Energy on top of the deck, without cheating of course. I suggest testing Ether with Pokédex, (also known as the EtherDex engine), in Darkrai, as you can use Sableye’s Junk Hunt attack to return both to your hand. Even if you don’t get successful Ethers, you have some reliable Dark Patches to fall back on. Ether and Lunatone or Ether and Pokédex work well together with Landorus-EX, since you can use Heavy Ball to search out Lunatone, Landorus-EX, and Terrakion, and Fighting-types have never had acceleration before. So while Landorus-EX was fast before, it just became faster. Last but not least, EtherDex could work its way into Klingklang decks in order to provide some early attacking and relief against Hammertime.
In conclusion, Ether is one of the many unique cards that is presented to us with the set Plasma Storm. It has its uses, providing speed for decks that haven’t seen it before and others that just want to be faster. Unfortunately, it is very luck-based, but with tools like Lunatone, Musharna, or Pokédex, it could find its way into a winning deck.
We’ve arrived at what is arguably the best card in the set. It’s effect is simple: Poison the opponent’s Active Pokémon, and on a coin flip, put it to sleep too. That alone essentially makes it a better, unstackable Pluspower that has a pretty sweet side effect and doesn’t require you to attack to apply the damage. Truthfully, if that’s all this card had going for it, it would still be pretty good, but it wouldn’t be game breaking. Combine this with the new Virbank City Gym though, and it suddenly becomes one of the best cards in the game. Instead of 10 extra damage, you now do a ridiculous 30 extra damage, which can add up to some pretty sweet damage calculations for many decks. You can figure them out for yourself via some quick math, but to give an example, if you use this with Darkrai-EX’s Night Spear, assuming Darkrai-EX has a Dark Claw attached to it, Darkrai-EX does an insane 140 damage. That means it can then snipe 170 HP EX’s for 30 damage after the original 140 to pull off some amazing combos, not to mention 140 is enough to KO support Pokemon like Blastoise. If the card couldn’t get any better, the fact that it Poisons the opponent’s Pokémon means it’ll do another 30 damage going back into your turn, creating possible situations where the Pokémon will be knocked out, giving you a free shot at their new active. Even if isn’t Knocked Out, the 3 turns of Poison will add up to an extra 90 damage. All of that combined with the ability to disrupt by putting the opponent’s Pokémon to sleep, and you get one seriously good card. Expect to see it everywhere it upcoming tournaments, as this card is going to be a big part of the game for a long time to come.
Every time a new Stadium is released, it finds it way into something. On the surface, Plasma Frigate’s place seems to be in Plasma Pokémon-based decks because Plasma Energy is required to get rid of the Weakness. However, that isn’t the case. This particular card can allow a player to play with an ace in the hole. Imagine having a Mewtwo-EX without a Weakness. A player wouldn’t have to fear retaliation from an opposing Mewtwo-EX. The downfall of this card is the unfortunate reality that an opponent simply has to play their own Stadium to get rid of it. While you do run the risk of your Stadium getting removed, Plasma Frigate is worth the risk as a card that can swing games in your favor, or even seal a well-earned victory late in the game.
Truthfully, this card shines the most as a form of boosting Hypnotoxic Laser to unbelievably good levels, which is why this analysis is going to be brief. On it’s own, the only real place it has is to make some interesting rogues out of anything that can Poison, although none of them are really viable because the format is too fast and damage-heavy for rogues to succeed. One cool thing to pair it with is the new Crobat, which could allow you to do a ridiculous 60 damage from Poison in between turns. Again though, rogues like these have a difficult time succeeding right now, meaning it’s probably best to let this have its glory as a pair with Hypnotoxic Laser and not with anything else.
As with all gimmick themes, they get a special energy card all to themselves. Generation 3 had React Energy, R Energy and a truckload of Holon-based Energy, Generation 4 had SP Energy, now comes Generation 5’s first venture into gimmick themes with Plasma Energy. Plasma Energy provides 1 [C] and of course will do something when attached to specific Pokémon. The most notable of these in the current set are Zapdos-EX, Lugia-EX and Articuno-EX and Plasma Frigate. You can refer to their respective card reviews to get a more detailed explanation about how Plasma Energy works for them. Moltres-EX, who is also a beneficiary of Plasma Energy sadly didn’t make the list of cards to be reviewed but let’s all just say that the card itself leaves to be anything of note.
Plasma Energy as with all gimmick-themed energy cards do provide problems. First of all, they are considered Special Energy; having them as Special Energy limits their deck slots to four and this can be taxing especially when the cards now require Plasma Energy to be continuously attached to the Pokémon or being used as fuel to attack. This card also falters to the still lasting popularity of Hammertime which uses Enhanced Hammer to remove Plasma Energy from the Pokémon. Overall, Plasma Energy works just like its predecessors but the main problem now is trying to keep the energy on the field, and the quality of the Pokémon that actually get to use it. It will have its time once more Plasma support is released but for now it’s just a mediocre card. It can be accelerated by Colress Machine so it does at least provide Plasma Pokémon with some sort of acceleration and search that these kinds of gimmicks actually get every time.
Well here we are, another ACE SPEC that Plasma Storm introduced to us. At first glance, you’ll notice that Dowsing Machine is from the video game as an item that looks for other items. That’s what Dowsing Machine does! It allows you to discard two cards from your hand and search your discard pile for a Trainer card. Now, to the many people who played during the 2011-2012 season, this sure sounds familiar…a little like Junk Arm, perhaps? Junk Arm did the exact same thing, except it could only get back Item cards. Junk Arm was also referred to as a staple in all decks that didn’t contain Vileplume UD, a 4-of that was necessary to in order to do well. Other than the fact that you obviously can’t play 4 Dowsing Machine, Dowsing Machine is a little different than good o’l Junk Arm – it allows you to get back Supporters too. This is great. Technically, now your deck can contain 5 of one card – 5 Junipers, 5 Catchers, 5 Switch, basically any Trainer, Supporter, or Stadium. This helps after a late-game N, because you can Dowsing Machine and get back a Supporter to get you back into the game. Or, it could allow you to survive after having to Juniper away or discard resources that you may need later. Of course, there is always a bad side to things. Dowsing Machine isn’t the greatest card early game, because if there is nothing in your discard, it could sit as a dead card in your hand, unlike Computer Search, which is always useful. Even with it’s downside, Dowsing Machine is certainly a contender for best Ace Spec.
Now the question we have all been waiting for: Dowsing Machine, or Computer Search? The answer simply relies on two things: preference and deck choice. In a Landorus-EX, you rely on speed and quick KOs to get you ahead of your opponent. In this case, Computer Search would be the ideal card to play, allowing you to get cards you need easily and have a fast start. Or, in an Eelektrik deck, for example RayEels, or Blastoise/Keldeo-EX, you don’t necessarily need a turn 1 attack, which in most cases, you won’t even get. Dowsing Machine in these decks allows you to be able to set up, while keeping in mind that you are able to get back anything you discard. And finally, a Darkrai deck would typically run Computer Search, since they are fast and Sableye DE gets back items anyways. I’m not saying that you can’t run Computer Search in Eels or Dowsing Machine in Landorus-EX – if you test it out and you feel comfortable with it, that’s fine. Computer Search is also strong throughout the game while Dowsing Machine is only strong mid to late game.
However, Dowsing Machine can catch your opponent off guard when they think you are out of a certain resource.
Like it’s brother, Junk Arm from HS Triumphant, Dowsing Machine is one of the pluses of Plasma Storm for sure because of its countless uses late game. It is definitely something to consider testing out in your deck and testing against. It could be the item that you are looking for.
Scramble Switch is controversially the best ACE SPEC released yet. It works as a way to move all of your Energy from a damaged Keldeo-EX to a new one in Keldeo/Blastoise builds, and works as a quick way to power up new attackers. Along with the new Black Kyurem-EX that was just released, Keldeo/Blastoise lists can use Scramble Switch to take the last 2 Prize Cards, an easy feat with such a powerful ACE SPEC. It’s also good with a lategame Skyla, and can be used to snag some game-changing Prize Cards. Overall, I believe that Scramble Switch is going to be one of the most game-changing cards of Plasma Storm, and I expect it to be a staple in Keldeo/Blastoise lists, and make an impact as an ACE SPEC in general.
In conclusion, the released support for Team Plasma is lacking, with most of the important cards on hold for the next set (Plasma Freeze). However, that does not mean that this set is bad by any means. The set has several cards that will impact the meta and several more that will try to find a niche. The sheer amount of ultra-rares in this set also makes pull rates a bit easier which gives people more for their money. Overall, Plasma Storm is a very good set with plenty of options for meta players and some fun cards that can be used by people who decide to play more unique decks.
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