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Yu Yu Hakusho
Harry Potter
Vs. System

Otaku on the Pokémon Trading Card Game
Initial Impressions of BW: Plasma Freeze
May 13, 2013

Salutations dear readers!


Regular Pojo readers know that last year we began creating Top 10 lists for the sets when they came out, and while working on my list I realized I was going to have to go through and jot down my early impressions of the cards anyway, so why not share those thoughts?  I will not be surprised when some of my guesses turn out to be wrong; these are not careful predictions based on play testing, but my opinions based on simple analysis of the cards and what we know about the current metagame, meant to be a starting point for your own testing and an entertaining read.


General Notes

I’ve looked at all the cards in the set but I won’t have duplicate entries for cards printed twice in this set (like Pokémon-EX).  I am giving my thoughts on how some of the reprinted cards may perform with the addition of the new cards.  Cards are listed in order, with Evolution lines paired together.  To help break things up, I went ahead and listed major divisions like Pokémon-Type as well as breaking Trainers and Special Energy into a section, and then Secret Rares.  Outside of headings, I will use my usual formatting: card names are italicized while set names are underlined.  I no longer list set references for Modified legal card that only have a single version available, because by now you know when I say Blastoise, I mean Blastoise (BW: Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW: Plasma Storm 137/135).  I will also usually denote that a Pokémon is Team Plasma affiliated by following its name with “[Plasma]”, especially when it makes identifying which card I am talking about easier.


I am going to avoid going into a lot of depth (painful as that is for me), so I won’t be mentioning a lot of obvious combos unless they are important to the card; maybe they make the card, maybe they break the card, or maybe there is nothing else to say.  As an example, I won’t worry about something being a legal Heavy Ball target unless multiple cards in the Evolution line or something it combos with can also be searched out via Heavy Ball, or if that is the highlight of the card.




Weedle/Kakuna/Beedrill: Weedle and Kakuna are better than many versions but aren't strong enough to support their final form and are certainly not the best versions we've seen of those Pokémon (despite the overall power creep).


Beedrill is not a "near miss", but a near "near miss".  The HP (on a Stage 2) makes it too fragile to pull off Max Potion shenanigans with Swift Sting and Pierce is almost totally worthless.  Max Sting still isn't enough on its own to OHKO a Keldeo EX or Blastoise without help.


Exeggute/Exeggutor: I have doubts about the deck that is supposed to abuse the Ability on Exeggute; while similar effects are amazing in other games, those games don't have the "you must start with a creature in play" or "you lose if you have no creatures in play" rules of Pokémon.


Exeggutor becomes tempting for two reasons; Blockade can’t lock down Supporters on your first turn, but a deck built around it should be able to reliably do so on its second turn if it can keep its Exeggute alive.  The effect rests on the opposing player, so it isn’t going anyway even if your opponent forces Exeggutor to the Bench.  The second attack is overpriced, but can use most forms of Energy acceleration (like Double Colorless Energy) and if you get “heads” on the coin flip, will OHKO Keldeo EX and Blastoise.  The HP of both relative to the format becomes the biggest enemy; a Darkrai EX with a Dark Claw or a PlusPower or a Hypnotoxic Laser can OHKO an Exeggutor while also OHKOing a Benched Exeggute!


Treecko/Grovyle/Sceptile: Treecko and Grovyle fail to support Sceptile, plus Grovyle is too puny.  Sceptile shows some effort by not being pure vanilla, but not much as we get an attack that is only competitive on “heads” and the kind of healing attack that completely ignores how it will almost never heal much in the current format.


Cacnea/Cacturne: Cacnea at least has enough HP not to look like a joke, but the attack is overpriced, uncreative, and doesn't provide the support Cacturne needs. Cacturne and its attacks aren't good enough for a 90 HP Evolution. Rapid Fire Needle needed to hit the Defending Pokémon for at least another 10 points of damage to put it into the proper OHKO/2HKO range for the format, and even then most of the time it would have needed supporting cards.  As for the damage to one of your Benched Pokémon, this set’s Mr. Mime handles that no problem.  The second attack is almost totally useless; the effects only trigger when your opponent just needs one more Prize while Cacturne is an easy OHKO for any competitive deck.  When you do the math, that tells you unless Payback wins you the game, you’re losing next turn.


Leafeon: Goes from chump to champ due to hitting Keldeo EX and Blastoise so hard… maybe.  Even Deluge decks can keep little Energy on the field while making huge attacks with Black Kyurem EX (BW: Plasma Storm 95/135).  Damage from Energy Crush is going to be dependant on your opponent in most matches, and many decks can just out perform Energy Crush while relying on inexpensive attacks.  Leaf Blade is not useless, but neither is it good.  If you have abundant Energy acceleration and your opponent is playing around Energy Crush, you may have to use it, but you should just try to have an alternate attacker for those situations.  Like all the Eeveelutions, it also is a probable OHKO for most attackers.




Flareon: Vengeance is badly underpowered; late game it might be worth it but remember Flareon [Plasma] is probably a OHKO and thus gets to attack once.  Heat Tackle is just a little overpriced, but without acceleration Flareon [Plasma] won’t build it up quickly enough, and since it still is probably getting OHKOed you need to be able to spare that Energy.  If this card is being run, it is as a late game cleaner or counter to the Fire Weak Pokémon (no guarantee if there will be any worth countering).


Heatran-EX: Dynamite Press is just a horribly overpriced; if you have a Plasma Energy attached, it will 2HKO anything, but for (RRCC) it should be doing that without Plasma Energy or effects.  Heat Boiler is seldom going to trigger unless your opponent misplays.  There are five Special Conditions; Paralysis and Sleep completely prevent attacking, Burn and Poison don’t interfere with attacking at all, and Confusion has a 50% chance of either.  What are the odds your opponent will “have” to use Hypnotoxic Laser on Heatran EX outside of going for the KO that same turn (or between turns)?


Litwick/Lampent/Chandelure: There are five other options for Litwick and three for Lampent and the new ones don’t greatly improve the odds of surviving to Evolve.  Chandelure has a shot being competitive: while it is a Stage 2, it is also a Team Plasma Pokémon that can accelerate Fire Energy from the deck (which is rivaled only by acceleration from the discard pile) to any of your Pokémon in play, though it does place a damage counter on the recipient.


Reshiram: A 130 HP Basic Pokémon is incredibly hard to FTKO, and most decks won’t find it an easy OHKO at any point in the game.  The attacks look nearly useless, and the first pretty much is; see the entry for Heatran EX on the issues with attacking and Special Conditions.  Fusion Flare is in that grey area where I can’t justify it as being truly “good”, but it does enough that it isn’t really “bad” either.  Its mostly Colorless Energy costs means that three of the four Energy can be supplied through most forms of Energy acceleration.  While it specifies “Zekrom”, you don’t have to use the version from this set; I could see this being added into an Eelektrik (BW: Noble Victories 40/101) that already needs to run a source of Fire Energy as you may be able to “trade” it for a Pokémon-EX, might be able to use it to hit Weakness, and already might be including a Zekrom for similar reasons.


Water Types


Horsea/Seadra: Seadra’s Smokescreen might keep it alive long enough to Evolve and Evolving is the only reason to run either Horsea or Seadra.  Technically, Seadra might not see play even then as it could be skipped via Rare Candy.  Check out the entry for Kingdra from this set to get a better idea; there are no other versions of any member of the line other than those in BW: Plasma Freeze.


Vaporeon: The anti-Pokémon-EX Team Plasma Eeveelution, Gold Breaker needed to hit for 10 more points of damage for solid OHKO/2HKO options.  There are options to boost damage, but none of those options are unique to Vaporeon [Plasma].  It has to bank on being a Team Plasma Pokémon and Eeveelution, and that may not be enough even for an Eeveelution deck.


Wooper/Quagsire: Wooper is notable a downgrade of the very first Wooper (Neo Genesis 82/111); the only improvement is that it has more HP but that is required to try and keep pace with power creep.  The rest of the card is the same or worse.  Quagsire seems to be a lesser remake of another older card instead of another Quagsire; it is a far inferior version of Donphan (107/123) a.k.a. Donphan Prime.  This time the “copy” has 20 less HP than the “original” plus lacks the Lightning Resistance that was expected.  It is good that Quagsire has an effect on it to reduce the damage it takes by 20 points and Quagsire couldn’t have two attacks by modern design standards, but what it got is overpriced; (WCC) should be enough for 90 points of damage, but Quagsire also requires a source of (F) Energy be attached.


Glaceon: The “other” Water-Type Team Plasma Eeveelution is not high on my list.  It has an Ability that drops the Retreat Cost of Team Plasma Pokémon by (CC), and is worded so that it should stack.  One copy on your Bench would wipe out most but not all Retreat Costs on Team Plasma Pokémon, though two would (excluding other effects altering the costs).  While handy, this comes at the cost of having other Eeveelutions in play, and even in an Eeveelution deck this isn’t necessarily better than the other retreat reducing effects or alternatives.  The attack is for emergency use only as it doesn’t hit hard enough to justify the Energy investment, at least as the only attack on a Stage 1 Pokémon apt to be OHKOed.


Tympole/Palpitoad/Seismitoad: Tympole isn’t any better than past versions, though Palpitoad at least offers 10 more HP.  Seismitoad might just barely qualify for a quirky “rogue” (or at least “fun”) deck.  Even on a Stage 2, 30 points of damage to all of your opponent’s Pokémon for (CC) is impressive.  You have to pay attention as it slams everything on your own Bench for the same amount and the mixed blessing is that this set’s Mr. Mime both enables a deck focused on Seismic Punch and counters it if an opponent has a copy handy.  Probably a dead end, but worth checking out.


Vanillite/Vanillish/Vanilluxe: Another Stage 2 line where the new lower Stages don’t offer anything better than what we already have, just something a little different.  Vanilluxe itself adds to the stable of Team Plasma Pokémon that are unlikely to ever show up at a serious event, but it isn’t completely without merit.  Its first attack averages a return of 30 points of damage per Energy invested, and it can use any Energy to do with (with as little as just one).  Long story short, this can lead to the annoying “luck” deck that is always a threat even because when the coin flips go its way, it wins.  Just three Energy gives ChillMAX a (admittedly low) chance of OHKOing almost anything that sees regular play; winning a tournament is unlikely but you would still need to be wary if you faced this at a tournament.


Cryogonal: This is an attack based “set-up” card in a format where its 80 HP is within donk range.  As you can tell, I don’t think this worth a slot even in a deck running important Water-Type Pokémon for it to search out; a Blastoise in hand doesn’t do much good when you’ve already lost.


Kyurem: This card has been touted as the primary non-Pokémon-EX attacker for the anticipated new major deck.  Said deck uses only Basic Pokémon, mostly if not purely Team Plasma Pokémon, with heavy emphasis on Deoxys EX, and Thundurus EX.  At first I didn’t understand but as a non-Pokémon-EX in a Pokémon-EX heavy format Kyurem [Plasma] can often trade favorably for Prizes.  Thanks to Colress Machine/Plasma Energy, Kyurem [Plasma] can open hitting the Defending Pokémon for 30 along with something on the Bench, and each Deoxys EX in play will bump that damage to the Defending Pokémon up by 10.  While a bit pricey and awkward, you can use the second attack for big hits, possibly OHKOs (the deck provides a lot of “help” for damage).  Did I mention it hits Landorus EX for double damage?




Voltorb/Electrode: Voltorb has 10 more HP than the previous option, so while only a small improvement, it is an improvement nonetheless.  If Electrode sees play it will only be for its Magnetic Draw Ability, which essentially provides a free Bicycle each turn.  Even drawing an extra one or two cards per turn can win the game, and the wording is such that as long as you can also repeatedly lower your hand below four cards, you can use multiple copies of Magnetic Draw per turn.  The price is running a Fighting Weak Stage 1 Pokémon with 90 HP and a bad attack… and the nature of the game’s Evolution mechanic means running a Stage 1 increases the odds of dead cards in hand.  I want this to work, but don’t think it will unless it is behind something that blocks Items.


Jolteon: This Team Plasma Eeveelution seems to have the least going for it; outside of hitting a few Pokémon for double damage (which won’t be enough for even a 2HKO without help) and annoying opponents by forcing them to swap out a Pokémon-EX you’ve rendered incapable of attacker (as per the second attack), you are giving your opponent an easy Prize.  So… trading three of these for one Pokémon-EX is not good.  If you are lucky and face a Pokémon-EX that can’t get out of the way, you can slowly chip away at it, but by that same note you are giving your opponent time to build up a counter.


Chinchou/Lantern: Chinchou has 10 more HP over the only other Modified Legal option, so it is an improvement albeit a small one.  Lantern has a decent opening attack if you have a Special Energy attached to it (as a Blend Energy WLFM allows it to hit for 60)… which isn’t really saying much.  The second attack would be “average” except it has a discard clause and is on a Fighting Weak Stage 1 Evolution line with 90 HP, making it quite bad.


Pachirisu: This card feels like someone bred Pachirisu (Call Of Legends 18/95) with Emolga (BW: Dragons Exalted 45/124)… and got something far inferior to either.  70 HP already makes it vulnerable to a OHKO first turn and Fighting Weakness just makes the problem worse.  There is no free Retreat cost to provide some benefit to it being stuck on the Bench, and even if you successfully open with it, you have to attach one Energy to get two back… netting only the same advantage as playing a single Energy Search barring extenuating circumstances.  For the sake of reference, if this was an Evolving Pokémon, this would be a solid start for the line.


Thundurus EX: Raiden Knuckle makes this card.  The various hyped Team Plasma Basic Pokémon decks seem to always feature this with Deoxys EX and Kyurem [Plasma], and often includes Lugia EX and/or Snorlax [Plasma].  This card is important because of Raiden Knuckle; doing a decent 30 points of damage for (L) while attaching an Energy from your discard pile to one of you Benched Team Plasma Pokémon drives this deck.  On its own, this is enough to whittle away at something of your opponent’s while the Energy acceleration sets up something to perform a follow-up KO, but most of the time you’ll be running plenty of tricks to boost your damage.  If your opponent doesn’t KO Thundurus EX, Max Potion can flush away the damage and a single Energy attachment (possibly a second Thundurus EX re-attaching what you just discarded) re-readies it.  The second attack seems at least a little overpriced, but you probably won’t often use it and it is manageable if you did need it.


Zekrom: Like Reshiram from this set, this card is not as bad as it might appear; 130 HP is out of easy OHKO range and thus if you can get the second attack up and running, you should often trade one Prize for two Prizes against Pokémon-EX (and obliterate almost anything smaller).  The massive four Energy attack requirement and need for a Reshiram on your Bench still hurts, but it is something you could work with.  I would likely stick with the original Zekrom, but if the self-damage becomes too much of a liability and you’ve already got the needed Energy acceleration in deck, it might be worth it.




Nidoran /Nidorina/Nidoqueen: This is an underwhelming Stage 2 Evolution line; the attacks are pure vanilla as each Stage can hit for some damage and automatically Poison the Defending Pokémon for (PC), and all but Nidoran can use a harder hitting “damage only” attack, but that damage is determined by coin flips.  Virbank City Gym will help a little with those first attacks, increasing the Poison damage, but for the most part this is higher quality filler.  If this card gets used, it will be for this set’s Nidoking.


Nidoran /Nidorino: An underwhelming Basic and Stage 1 form for a Stage 2 Evolution line (Nidoking is a Fighting-Type and covered later), despite being “Poison-Type” (a part of the TCG Psychic-Type) they cannot even inflict Poison.  Overpriced attacks and at best “average” HP scores that have proven liabilities for most Evolution lines cement that these cards are filler, or even intentionally poor filler to drag down Nidoking.


Grimer/Muk: Grimer is a small improvement over the only other Modified legal version; that first attack isn’t brilliant but it is at least something useful second turn, disrupting your opponent in manner that both hurts them and might protect your Grimer.  Muk [Plasma] is at worst high quality filler; I don’t think it will be competitive at all, owing to the amount of Energy it requires making it an easy OHKO for Mewtwo EX or Deoxys EX, let alone anything that can hit for 100 points of damage (100 HP isn’t outside of probable OHKO range).  It is a Team Plasma Pokémon, for what that is worth.


Its two attacks at least do interesting things, but the Energy costs are too large and they don’t seem fully thought out.  Poison Suction doesn’t do much for something likely to be OHKOed and needs help Hypnotoxic Laser or an attack by this set’s Grimer as Muk [Plasma] itself doesn’t Poison.  The unreliable Energy discard of Sludge Crash isn’t as useful as simply KOing a Pokémon because this is a four Energy attack that needed to hit harder than it does, but is still only a of 2HKOing most Pokémon.  Discarding Energy on something you should KO this turn or the next isn’t especially effective.


Mr. Mime: This card has an obvious niche due to its Ability.  This is good as the only useful thing about its 70 HP is that it is still low enough for Level Ball and the attack is something to use only when desperately trying to stall.  Bench Barrier, on the other hand, denies spread and sniping attacks by preventing all damage done to Benched Pokémon by attacks, which importantly includes damage from your own attacks as well as protection for Mr. Mime itself.  It is hardly full protection; effects from attacks still happen, while Abilities, Trainers, and Energy that affect the Bench are completely unimpeded.


This seems most useful for decks that either do a lot of damage through attacks to their own Bench, or that create a situation where its only real area of vulnerability is hits to its own Bench.  For a lower return that is more likely to happen, it also can be useful to frustrate the competitive decks that really count on spreading or Bench hits; your opponent then has to expend resources KOing Mr. Mime while the rest of your Pokémon are safe, or play with diminished offensive capacity.


Espeon: The Psychic Team Plasma Eeveelution falls into the realm of “interesting but not worth the effort”.  It is a Stage 1 and easy OHKO, which undermines its Psy Alert attack allowing it to hit for 20 points of damage for (C) and get the effect of a Bianca; just run Bianca, Bicycle, or both!  Shadow Ball is interesting because it allows you to select an opponent’s Pokémon and do 40 points of damage to it… and it expressly says to apply Weakness and Resistance.  Interesting isn’t useful; sometimes this will enable a decent 80 point snipe, sometimes it will result in only being able to hit something important like Darkrai EX for just 20 points of damage, but mostly it will just hit for 40 points of damage; only the 80-for-one isn’t weak.


Sableye: It is nice that Sableye [Plasma] shows off its Ghost-Type by being a Psychic, but it isn’t useful as the card doesn’t have any Type related combos to feed off of, doesn’t hit hard enough to significantly exploit Weakness, and in fact hits so softly that all the damage it can directly do will be absorbed when facing Psychic Resistance.  It also is an easy OHKO and possible donk.  Shadow Cage blocking the Defending Pokémon from retreating next turn can be useful, but not enough to justify dealing with the rest of the card.


Beldum/Metang/Metagross: The entire line would have been better off representing its Metal-Type half... or rather the probable shift to having the usual Fire Weakness and Psychic Resistance common Metal-Type Pokémon.  This is the only Modified legal version of the entire line, so no matter how bad the cards are, if you want to run Metagross this is your only choice.  Fortunately they didn’t do a bad job: Beldum has a decent enough attack to use opening turn; many card effects will force you to shuffle and ruin Calculate and it should have been an Ability, but it is what it is.  Metang has 90 HP, making it a legal Level Ball target and while its attacks are poor, at least the first can try to Paralyze the Defending Pokémon, possibly giving Metang time to Evolve.


As usual, Metagross [Plasma] will either make or break this line.  The Ability is a re-usable, once-per-turn “better” Team Plasma Ball: it can get not only Pokémon with Team Plasma affiliation, but Trainers and Energy as well.  Exploiting this has to be the focus of your deck because you can’t set a Stage 2 up both fast enough and reliably enough without building your deck around it and feeding it quite a few resources.  What hurts this deck most is that several key cards in most decks have no worthwhile Team Plasma alternatives.


Deoxys EX: A major part of the Team Plasma Basic Pokémon deck, and if any other Team Plasma decks prove worthwhile, probably worth running at least a single of there.  Its “Power Connect” Ability is key; a perpetual PlusPower for Team Plasma Pokémon, this will turn Raiden Knuckle’s damage from annoyance to a threat.  Power Connect doesn’t apply to any card named “Deoxys EX”: if the text just referred to the card itself, being a recent release it would have read “…this Pokémon…”  Helix Force thus isn’t as impressive as it could be, but if you have a Plasma Energy attached it will likely hit hard.  Just remember that it shouldn’t be attacking all that often; it is a Bench-sitter first and foremost.


Yanmask/Yanmask/Cofagrigus/Cofagrigus: We get a double portion of both Yanmask and Cofagrigus [Plasma] this set.  The Yanmask don’t bring anything important to the line (there are three other options from past sets), and Cofagrigus (BW: Plasma Storm 57/135) is a weak sniper or flippy main attacker.  Cofagrigus (BW: Plasma Storm 56/135) actually can do some interesting things.  Six Feet Under, the Ability, allows Cofagrigus to KO itself to allow you to place three damage counters as you wish on your opponent’s Pokémon.  This is so pricey and seemingly underpowered I am assuming I am missing some important combo.  I would say the new Ace Spec Life Dew, but that would be a one-time trick without an awful lot of effort for just three damage counters.


Slap of Misfortune is pricey and doesn’t hit overly hard, but it causes all coin flips your opponent would make during his or her next turn to be considered “tails”.  The wording means it won’t alter Sleep checks, and as it is an attack I suspect that Benching Cofagrigus [Plasma] will end it.  If the Ability did this instead of placing damage counters, I could easily see a use for this card.




Nidoking: Honestly, I am impressed by this card, but its lower Stages and Nidoqueen counterpart sabotage it.  The strong Typing and easy to pay cost for Lovestrike means as long as you can swarm Nidoqueen, you can hit hard; just two gives you enough damage to 2HKO most Pokémon that see competitive play.  While getting a full four Nidoqueen is unlikely, it would give you the 180 damage needed to OHKO almost anything in the format.  Its second attack is underpowered by a small margin (I prefer 100 damage for four Energy), and the lack of any Poison effect disappoints as well.  The rest of its card family completely fails it, so despite being impressed, I don’t know if Nidoking would even be an adequate “fun” deck.


Mankey/Primeape: These are the only Mankey and Primeape that are Modified legal, so even though they aren’t impressive, if you want them this is it.  Mankey disappoints by being a vanilla Evolving Basic Pokémon that is easy for many decks to donk and doing nothing that is likely to keep it alive long enough to Evolve, though at least it does do 20 for (F).  Primeape is another card where it looks like they tried a little, but not a lot; too small to survive attacking, though in an older format it probably would have been fearsome.  It is almost funny that its second attack does less damage when it is damaged… this may never matter given how unlikely Mankey or Primeape are to survive being hit by a damaging attack.


Onix: Onix has a decent 100 HP and thankfully has a three Retreat Cost; Heavy Ball could grab this and its Evolution.  Its attacks are overpriced, which is extra disappointing as with its size it might have gotten away with being used as non-set-up attacker.


Makuhita/Hariyama: Makuhita has horribly overpriced attacks, but at least it has a decent 80 HP for a Pokémon that Evolves.  It is still small enough to be a OHKO even first turn, and while its three Energy Retreat Cost is a pain, it also makes it a legal Heavy Ball target like its Evolved form.  Hariyama unfortunately isn’t worth the effort: its HP is acceptable but its attacks are also overpriced for what they do.


Umbreon: This is the Team Plasma Eeveelution that I found most impressive… until I realized it just isn’t efficient enough.  Its “Dark Shade” Ability boosts the HP of Team Plasma Pokémon by +20 stacks.  The main reason I don’t expect to see this as a common Bench-sitter, besides the space and Evolution requirements of being a Stage 1, is that adding damage with Deoxys EX likely to prove more useful.  It is a card to keep in mind, especially if the format were to slow down.


Sneasel/Weavile: Sneasel isn’t good, but it isn’t bad; while it can be FTKOed and Fighting Weakness is scary, Psychic Resistance is handy compensates a little.  Thanks to the combos available to Darkness-Type Pokémon, it may even be able to power-up first turn and try for the donk itself, though I would think that a foolhardy move.  Weavile [Plasma] has been hyped by some, trashed by others, and made the rest of us pause and think.  Utilizing Exeggute so that it has a reliable 120 damage coming from its second attack, and making use of heavy Team Plasma support, it becomes a major question of can one avoid being “donked” while running so many small Pokémon, as well as consistently setting back up each turn.


At a glance, especially to players who haven’t encountered Pokémon in less hopeful situations pull off similar decks successfully, I would agree that it was going to work… except I have seen similar strategies work, and the main challenge would seem to be streaming the resources.  Also worth noting that the deck could abuse both Team Plasma Ball and Level Ball due to the low HP scores, and/or might make use of an opener or closer to reverse the Prize/resource gap.  Lastly, to be clear as I have encountered some that do not understand this, the idea is to at least 2HKO anything but also to try for the occasional OHKO of a Pokémon-EX.


Absol: Absol [Plasma] is the answer to an old need; a non-Pokémon-EX attacker that works in Darkness decks.  This could become a useful piece of your typical Darkrai EX deck; Mind Jack is good enough that it is worth “trading” Absol [Plasma] to soften up/finish off common attackers if your opponent has a full enough Bench but the main use is to get around effects that block Darkrai EX from attacking.  If your opponent does fill his or her Bench you are looking at two for 120.  Toss in Dark Claw, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Virbank City Gym and you can OHKO quite a few Pokémon.  It doesn’t hurt that it can also tap Team Plasma support.


Sandile/Krokorok/Krookodile: Sandile and Krokorok don’t strike me as improvements over the best of the older versions.  This Krookodile, like many that came before it, gives me just enough to get my hopes up.  Tapping Team Plasma support means that a Bench full of Deoxys EX is a damage boosting option, while access to Darkness-Type support is always a good thing.  Piston Headbutt can be as good as Crushing Hammer or Enhanced Hammer with careful usage and a little luck… and as long as you have at least one of those, it still remains a solid attack.  If you can avoid being OHKOed, this also makes it easy to drop Max Potion to flush away damage.  Hammer In is a decent attack, and looks like it was meant to push for KOs when Piston Headbutt wasn’t the better choice.


The entire line also reminds me of a couple of the mascots for “Cookie Crisp”, so I am probably being unduly kind.


Pawniard/Pawniard/Bisharp/Bisharp: I don’t think the Team Plasma affiliation can save us from more botched Bisharp (the older versions haven’t proven useful), nor is either Pawniard an improvement of past iterations.  It is nice that both Bisharp [Plasma] have interesting effects, but neither are hard hitting enough to take anything relevant down in one hit (their anticipated lifespan), or hardy enough to get off multiple attacks.


Deino/Deino/Zweilous/Hydreigon: The main contribution of the lower Stages is that it will keep Darkness-Type lower forms available to all Hydreigon when BW: Noble Victories is cut, which is probable at the next rotation, though that may not matter if the Darkness-Type support released in BW: Dark Explorers were to go with them (possible).  The new Hydreigon [Plasma] is likely going to need to exploit both Team Plasma and Darkness-Type support, but if it does, it might make for a “fun” deck: Tractor Beam promotes the Defending Pokémon before it damages them, so Dark Claw and Power Connect (Deoxys EX) bonuses would apply.



Steelix: Both attacks are pricey for what they do, and “tanking” right now usually means spamming Max Potion.  As such, even with access to Colress Machine/Plasma Energy, I don’t think Steelix [Plasma] is easy enough to power-up.  Trying to support it with Umbreon or Deoxys EX is tempting, but that gives your opponent the option of attacking “around” your tank plus they can bolster anything (though Team Plasma Badge might be required).


Mawile: Another Pokémon that is an easy OHKO in the modern climate, and even a possible FTKO.  The extra-random hand disruption of Astonish is not impressive: using an attack so you can flip a coin to see if you are allowed to shuffle a random card from your opponent’s hand isn’t completely useless, but it is overpriced.  Mawile also isn’t big enough to “tank”, so its badly overpriced attack that does some self healing will likely never get a chance to be used, with the damage unlikely to result in a KO nor the healing to prevent one.  Blocking retreating is potentially useful, but far from enough to justify the rest of the card.




Dratini/Dragonair/Dragonite: The most useful thing either lower Stage does is Dragonair having a 50% chance of Paralyzing with its first attack (which could hypothetically buy enough time to Evolve).  If a deck can meet that Energy requirement, then it would be the Dragonair is would choose to run… assuming I was running Dragonite.  Dragonite does look like something worth considering; Item denial is pretty great in this game, and “Deafen” works with three of any Energy.  I have actually seen multiple Dragonite decks in the early planning stages already as it has players excited.  The second attack shouldn’t ever be used unless the deck is already able to easily meet the Energy requirements and you are taking your last Prize(s).


Kingdra: The two single Energy attacks tell you that if this card works, it will be abusing Max Potion.  Dragon Vortex calls back memories of Feraligatr (Neo Genesis 5/111) with its Riptide attack.  While you get better damage for a dramatically less expensive Energy requirement than Feraligatr did, plus being able to affect two different Energy Types, you also don’t have a built in way of discarding said Energy.  For a competitive damage output, you would want at least five of the appropriate Energy cards in the discard pile each time you attack and even with Professor Juniper, Ultra Ball, and Computer Search (or Dowsing Machine), that isn’t easy.  Tri Bullet isn’t bad but seems like the fallback option for when Dragon Vortex is unavailable; while it totals 90 points of damage done and (W) for 90 is great , as it is spread out you won’t get the “protection” offered by taking out an attacker in two turns.  Instead, something can slam you over and over again while taking 30 points of base damage.


Latias EX: Bright Dawn, its Ability, is what ultimately will make or break this card; it prevents damage and effects of attacks done to Latias EX by opponent’s Pokémon that have an Ability.  Most decks will have something in them that can hurt Latias EX, but also are likely to have something that can’t touch it.  Its attack is good, but not great: Barrier Break ignores Weakness, Resistance, and all effects on the Defending Pokémon.  Anything that lowers the damage Latias EX does is still going to hamper Barrier Break and while it is good Barrier Break doesn’t have to worry about protective effects, Dragon Resistance doesn’t occur naturally while Dragon Weakness is seen on all Dragon-Type Pokémon and so Barrier Break won’t get to apply it.  The attack only hits for 70 points of damage and requires (RPD) so if Bright Dawn isn’t being protecting, Latias EX shouldn’t be attacking.


Latios EX: Unfortunately for Latios EX, it isn’t as impressive as Latias EX.  It does things other cards can do better; if one needs to block retreating, there is Snorlax [Plasma] and if one needs a Dragon-Type Pokémon-EX that discards a lot of Energy to score big damage… there are multiple proven successful options and even more that are better than this but not quite good enough.




Rattata/Raticate: Rattata is just barely an upgrade due to having 10 more HP even though it has a worse attack (you shouldn’t be attacking with it unless desperate anyway).  Raticate [Plasma] itself isn’t going to prove useful, but fortunately Rattata may matter because of Raticate (BW: Boundaries Crossed 105/149).  Raticate [Plasma] suffers because it has a great supporting attack… but this is a Stage 1 Pokémon with just 70 HP; this card gets just one attack and then it is KOed.  Transfer Junk would be great on a Basic Pokémon unless perhaps it was Rattata sized otherwise, and the Bite attack on this card is clearly filler.


Eevee/Eevee: We get two Eevee options this set, and while neither is brilliant both are improvements over the two we already had available for Modified.  For (C) BW: Plasma Freeze 89/116 reduces the damage done by the Pokémon it attacked, lightly protecting itself and others while BW: Plasma Freeze 90/116 can attack to add up to three Eeveelutions to your hand.  You still want to avoid attacking with Eevee if at all possible.


Hoothoot/Noctowl: Hoothoot is within donk range and has just a single attack for (C) that has both players draw two cards.  Helping you draw is better than focusing on damage, but it helps the opponent out more than you: they get to use their cards first!  Noctowl is better than Hoothoot, but not by enough to matter; its first attack can punish large hand sizes, but there aren’t the combos available one would need to make the damage worth the investment, let alone in a reliable manner.  Fly doesn’t hit very hard for three Energy, fails on “tails”, and its protection can be played around by most decks, so it too fails this card.


Miltank: Miltank has the slightest bit of potential.  This Heavy Ball legal Basic Pokémon can try to exchange itself and two Energy to heal any one of your Pokémon through its “Max Milk” attack.  The obvious issue is that the trade may merely set things back one turn; your attacker isn’t getting an extra attack out of things unless you heal enough to compensate for having burned an attack using Max Milk and Miltank is either an easy OHKO (so you still give up a Prize) or you need a way to get it out of your Active slot.


Kecleon: This is a rather odd Pokémon; its “Color Change” Ability alters it to become the same Type as whatever your opponent has Active.  This could be useful as being Weak to one’s own Type happens often enough: all Dragon-Type Pokémon and many Psychic-Types spring to mind, plus some less common examples.  Fortunately few Pokémon are Resistant to their own Type, thus that is unlikely to be a concern.  Unfortunately Kecleon has a tricky attack; it can only copy an attack from the Defending Pokémon as the effect of its own attack, and even then it has to have been able to meet the Energy requirements for the copied attack to boot.  As it is a modest sized Basic Pokémon, it is unlikely to survive long enough to do this more than once; how many resources are worth investing in a one-and-gone copy shot?


Starly/Staravia/Staraptor: The only current Modified legal version of this Evolution line, unfortunately all the attacks are overpriced and the HP scores low.  The second attack on Staraptor, Strong Breeze, could be quite useful if this format wasn’t dominated by Basic Pokémon with often Energy efficient attacks or Energy acceleration.  In most match-ups, I would expect my opponent to take six Prizes long before I Benched out him or her for the win.  The Energy cost also makes it a bit too slow to expect to outpace the decks that do rely on more complicated set-ups.


Tornadus EX: Tornadus EX [Plasma] excites many players, but I believe this to be undeserved.  I can most definitely be wrong but given what we have seen I the game may be too fast and aggressive to use Windfall as a good opening play, while Jet Blast requires a big chunk of Energy to use and Plasma Energy (at least two) to use well.  Perhaps if it is the main focus of a deck, it will be worth it.  I just worry about a main attacker that relies so heavily on getting multiple copies of Plasma Energy attached; you probably won’t be able to field a back-up copy.


Trainers and Energy


Float Stone: This is likely to become an important card: even if it gets discarded quickly (either through Tool Scrapper or the Pokémon it is attached to getting KOed), it can still zero out the targets Retreat Cost that one time so as long as you don’t drop it until you are going to use it, you benefited from it.  It won’t save your manual retreat like Switch would but it also might survive to be re-used.  Of course the best use is going to be slapping it onto a Keldeo EX, as you will essentially gain a “free” Switch each turn while the two persevere.


Frozen City: This card devastates Blastoise decks… if they are caught flatfooted.  If they have a counter Stadium handy, then it will just be a Stadium for Stadium trade.  In fact, that holds true for most decks.  What makes Virbank City Gym work so well is that you use it to get an extra two damage counters between turns, before it can go away.  Frozen City also becomes a “blank” gym if your opponent can rely on Team Plasma Pokémon… and Team Plasma decks are expected to be popular if not dominant for the foreseeable future.


Ghetsis: Another card that at first was hyped then slammed.  I think the truth lies somewhere in between.  I don’t think this is a four-per-deck card.  I do think it might qualify as a one-per-deck Supporter in general; the threat of Ghetsis is important.  Odds are low you’ll ever hit a fat, Item heavy hand without some complicated combos on your part, but just enough “good” decks have Items they want to hold onto into hand, and stripping them away while getting to draw doesn’t just disrupt the player’s hand, but the player’s plans.  I think the trick is building your deck and playing with this as a disruption card, ignoring the draw it might provide.


Shadow Triad: The other new Team Plasma Supporter, this is most likely only worth the space in a dedicated Team Plasma deck.  Snagging any one Team Plasma card from your discard pile is useful; Pokémon aren’t too hard to get back from the discard pile, but just about everything else is.  The lack of serious draw/search power the turn you use this can be quite a steep price; like Dowsing Machine early game this could be dead in hand, and if this was your only Supporter that is horrifying.  Still, in a carefully crafted Team Plasma deck, it is hard to imagine it wouldn’t ultimately win you more games than you lose.  Much like Skyla, if you had to, you could snag another Team Plasma Supporter to use next turn, and getting extra uses out of Plasma Energy or Hypnotoxic Laser is potent.


Superior Energy Retrieval: This card disappointed me when I first saw its Japanese counterpart months ago.  Energy Retrieval originally required you discard a card to get those two Basic Energy back, and this was mistaken for (and indeed operates almost exactly like) Super Energy Retrieval; I simply expected the discard cost to be reduced by one.  It wasn’t, but it turns out it doesn’t need to be.  Deck space is at such a premium, that in specific decks what ultimately amounts to trading three cards for four Basic Energy is completely and totally worth it; you pay one more card from hand than you would dropping two Energy Retrieval, but you only need one specific card in hand and you freed up one slot in your deck’s build.


Just remember, “SER” means Super Energy Removal.  I don’t care if Super Energy Removal hasn’t been legal since Modified began, that is what SER stands for in Pokémon lingo.  If you disagree, your friends are obligated to only play you with Unlimited format decks utilizing it until it is burned into your brain. ;-)


Team Plasma Badge: This card opens up some impressive combo opportunities.  As a Pokémon Tool it can be discarded so easily by Tool Scrapper: you cannot be sure you can keep a copy of Team Plasma Badge on one of your Pokémon.  Fortunately a lot of the major combos you would use this for are going to happen on your turn, such as enabling access to Colress Machine for Energy acceleration or getting a damage boost from Deoxys EX and its Power Connect Ability.  With most Pokémon surviving just one to three turns in play, using Tool Scrapper on Team Plasma Badge after the fact is a lot like closing the barn door after the horses have already left.


Team Plasma Ball: If you have tried to build a Team Plasma focused deck before the release of this set, you already know how badly this card was needed.  If a deck either runs heavy on Team Plasma Pokémon or relies on a few for key plays, this card is great.


Plasma Energy: They reprinted Plasma Energy in this set; I am guessing so that it is even more available and was available for Limited Format events.  It obviously isn’t going to change the metagame, but it continues to serve as a useful trigger/target for various Team Plasma cards.


Life Dew: One of the two new Ace Spec cards we got to play with and I think it isn’t going to see a lot of successful, competitive play.  I’ve heard whispers of some combos that use it, and I’ll be happy if they pay off and I am wrong.  An Ace Spec that will force your opponent to take a seventh Prize (or rather re-earn one of their initial six) is very tempting, but we do still have Tool Scrapper so there is no guarantee you will get its effect, and many decks already exploit the idea of making an opponent take a seventh Prize through Pokémon-EX.  When Life Dew does go off, it provides major advantage you can’t generate with any other combo, but is that going to be worth not running Computer Search, Dowsing Machine, or Scramble Switch instead?


Rock Guard: Rock Guard is the enhanced version of Rocky Helmet; it does the exact same thing only three times as well by placing six damage counters instead of two anytime the equipped Pokémon is attacked.  Unfortunately, as it is triggered by the opponent attacking, that gives them ways of getting around it; besides just trying to KO Pokémon that aren’t equipped with it, your opponent could use Tool Scrapper to discard it or attack using something that won’t care about the damage.  That latter is pretty tough if something big gets Rock Guard before it has taken any damage, but with the current format it is quite conceivable for an opponent to just use two different attackers that will still require one “big” attack or two “average” attacks (80-100 points of damage) to turn Rock Guard damage into overkill damage, something meaningless.


Professor Juniper: As this is not a new card, I will point out that it will remain the best form of draw power that will shape how decks function, and this confirms we will not be losing it anytime soon.


Secret Rares


Empoleon: Empoleon is hurt by the likelihood that Thundurus EX will become a major force in this format; Empoleon may be large enough that OHKOs by Raiden Knuckle are possible yet unlikely, but Piplup needs help to survive even a normal hit from Raiden Knuckle.  The Type-matching benefits (for Thundurus EX) will probably outweigh the functional advantage Empoleon would get facing a deck that normally has a full Bench.  Empoleon is one of the few Pokémon that might be able to get away running heavy on Ghetsis, and imagine what you can do with Team Plasma Badge and either Deoxys EX or Umbreon [Plasma]?


Sigilyph: This set gave us some good, non-Pokémon-EX attackers, undermining the entire point of Sigilyph, yet I do wonder if one could build a deck around Sigilyph and Latias EX so that you only needed to worry about the few attackers that are neither Pokémon-EX nor have Abilities.  Plus like so many Pokémon, I have to ask “What can I do when I add in Team Plasma Badge”?  Deoxys EX isn’t an easy OHKO and a deck built around Basic Pokémon might be able afford to include both Switch and Max Potion in good quantities.  Throw in Latias EX and you might have a variable tank.


Garbodor: While we did get some good cards that lack Abilities this set, their most likely dance partners have Abilities.  I don’t expect Garbodor to go away.


Garchomp: The Team Plasma “Big Basics” decks are expected to run heavy on Special Energy cards, but I don’t think that is enough to significantly help Garchomp.  At the same time, am I not telling people to experiment with Team Plasma Badge and Deoxys EX?  Backing up a Stage 2 with a Basic Pokémon-EX seems a lot easier than doing so with an easy to OHKO Stage 1.  The question then becomes “Can you keep Team Plasma Badge” on it?


Max Potion: Nothing in this stops Max Potion from being a great card, and if anything it seems like it will be prominent in at least one new deck.


Ultra Ball: Technically it might see less play just because Team Plasma decks might be able to just use Team Plasma Ball, but otherwise remains a great card and already I see a lot of lists showing the two together.







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