– Plasma Storm
Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Poisoned. Flip a coin. If heads, your opponent’s Active Pokémon is also Asleep.
June 28, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Today’s Throwback Thursdays isn’t anything related to future expansions like the past several weeks, but instead, we’re looking at a card that defined the format the moment it was released. The card in question is Hypnotoxic Laser (BW Plasma Storm 123/135). It was reviewed three times as the top pick for Plasma Storm (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2013/Feb/15.shtml), the top pick of 2013 (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2013/Dec/1-3.shtml), and the 3rd best card lost to rotation (https://www.pojo.com/COTD/2015/Aug/5.shtml). The reviewers thought very highly of this card, and if you were to read those previous reviews, you’ll be able to see why. It is one of those cards which can be in any deck because it isn’t specific to a certain type.
This card poisons the Defending Pokemon and if you flip a coin and land heads, the Defending Pokemon is also Asleep! Poison guarantees one damage counter placement on Poisoned Pokemon in between turns unless certain cards or abilities allow you to place even more, like Virbank City Gym placing two more damage counters of poisoned Pokémon (a total of three damage counters between turns) or Toxapex-GX’s Super Intense Poison, which places TEN damage counters between turns. Sleeping Pokémon needs a coin flip in between turns: if heads, you wake up, if tails, the Pokémon is still asleep. Both special conditions are useful, and also stack when it comes to attacks that deal more damage for each special condition affecting the Pokémon. Also, if the poisoned Defending Pokemon didn’t switch out, then it takes additional damage between turns again, softening your moment for an easy KO. What makes Hypnotoxic Laser fail is if Virizion-EX or Comfey (SM Guardians Rising) prevents Special Condition affecting the Pokémon as well as removing it…….if the Pokémon has the right energy to trigger their respective abilities. For first turn, even when you can’t attack, you can still win against a lone 30 HP Pokemon and if you have both Virbank City Gym and Hypnotoxic Laser.
This card has broad usage that I find it easier for me to determine which cards that can’t benefit from Hypnotoxic Laser. Pokemon that already has OHKO power that such a small boost is rendered useless (because the Defending Pokemon would be KOed anyways, with or without special conditions). And even if it did benefit you, answers to counteract from Hypnotoxic Laser includes anti-special conditions mentioned earlier as well as switching or pseudo-switching cards like Float Stone and either Keldeo-EX, Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX, or Zoroark BKT. Meaning you couldn’t bank on trying to keep that special condition intact. Which makes it worthwhile is if you could score a pseudo OHKO (falling short of a KO, Poison finishes it off), because if you were to 2HKO, your opponent would have answers to it. Liabilities also exist in some form of Hypnotoxic Laser; your opponent may benefit having certain special conditions, strange as it may seem since it’s not often we’d get to see that in competitive play, and using an item cards means you’re helping the damage output of Trashalanche. Despite those drawbacks, if any attacker really needed another item that places some sort of damage, even after exhausting various specific and non specific boosting items such as your Choice Bands, Strong Energies, Diancie Prism Star, then Hypnotoxic Laser will get you there, giving you an extra push.
If it were to be reprinted (which I hope not), then it will continue to see a lot of play. We would be entering yet another aggressive format where players will try to invest everything to secure KOs, making the game very fast paced and ending matches faster. Regardless of how often you’ll see this in Expanded, this is still a serious threat to watch out for. Same can be said for Legacy as you can apply a lot of things about what’s being said in older reviews.
Expanded: 4.75/5 (an enabler of various combos as well as being great on its own)
Conclusion: Hypnotoxic Laser is one of those cards that is amazing from the start and unaffected by power creep or any other changes to what the Pokémon TCG would implement. It’s nice to chime in to an older card, but I doubt we’ll be seeing a card like this for a very long time, so hang on into your copies for future use.
Hypnotoxic Laser (PLS 123) made its debut in February 2013 and was extremely impactful from the onset. To give you some perspective, the 2013 World Championship deck (Jason Klaczynski) ran four of them, and it continued to see use through the 2015 World Championship when the second and third place decks (Mees Brenninkmeijer and Igor Costa respectively) both ran four copies as well.
Although it rotated out of Standard six months before I began playing the game, even an uninitiated nescient like myself heard of the potency of this card. I had taken a job where I was supporting a group out of Pittsburgh, and I remember walking through a mall by the hotel I was staying at after dinner. I came across a comic and card shop and stopped in because I knew my son and his friends were really getting into Pokemon cards. I did a google on “What are the best Pokemon cards” and quickly came across Hypnotoxic Laser. I remember reading a chat in a forum where one player was talking about how the card should be banned. That seemed to be the general consensus, and since I could get them for I think fifty cents or a dollar a piece (this was in June or July 2015 so they were probably on the verge of rotating out), it was easy to pick him up a couple of them.
So that gives you some idea of the potency of this card: some Pokedad who thought he should hand you a Kleenex after you said the word Pikachu was able to figure out in about ten seconds that this card would help his son annihilate his friends in the Pokemon TCG battle arena. And it’s easy to see why. It’s not that this card just leaves your opponent poisoned, but it also might leave him asleep as well. It does two things. Granted the poisoning was the primary focus – pairing it with a variety of other cards to combine into devastating synergy. However, it also gave you the potential of a little additional spif in the 25% chance of a sleep lock as well.
I know I’ve talked about this ad nauseum, but I wish more cards had these little spifs. I get it that Hypnotoxic Laser would still have seen quite a bit of use had it not contained the sleep clause in its text, but that’s just the icing on the cake of a really good card… maybe one of the best cards ever. So why hasn’t Pokemon taken heed of that and given more ancillary cards additional spifs? For instance, what if Choice Band also served to reduce damage done against you from EX and GX Pokemon? I like that Escape Board also allows you to retreat while Asleep or Paralyzed, but why not make retreat free just like Float Stone? Or at least reduce by two and not just one. Or like Korrina, that let you grab a Pokemon and an Item card. Cards that do two things and not just one are so much more playable and would see more use in the game. Having more multi purpose cards would help expand the card base and give us more options. Right now 95% of all Supporters played consist of six different cards. 90% of Items consist of nine different cards. It would be fantastic if we could get some additional variety and expand that limited pool of high quality Trainer cards.
Standard: 4 out of 5
My hypothetical Standard ranking is only four out of five because there are so many switching cards out there in the meta today. We do have many cards that could potentially abuse Hypnotoxic Lasers, however, and would augment the amount of damage it could do. There are even a couple of GX Pokemon who would outright OHKO the active Pokemon if this card were played. This card would see a ton of use and would be a four of in many decks if it were available in today’s meta. It might even help counter the dominance of Buzzwole.
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