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Plasma Gale Previews:
There have been multiple leaks/previews of the upcoming Japanese “Plasma Gale” expansion. Information is still scarce overall, but we know more than we did as of my last article, so I’ll address the mechanics some more, the new cards that have been either fully or partially revealed, and how this affects what we already saw. You’ll also note I won’t usually be posting card references, as I will be referring to cards from two sets with no English counterparts or else mostly well known cards that have been released.
As a reminder, despite my screen name, I don’t speak Japanese. I was younger, wanted to learn Japanese (and still hope to eventually), and was basically just getting into Japanese animation when I adopted the screen name. Given my obsessive nature, I’ve kept it since while I may not be much of an animé or manga “otaku”; I fit the term in other areas of my life. As such, translations are still coming from PokéBeach.com, and this time I’ll just link to the relevant news postings on that site.
Perhaps the most significant reveal we have is easy to miss; cards that are actually “Plasma” Pokémon not only have a small text box or “label” as described in my previous article to identify them, but in the background of the normal area for Ability and attack text possess the Team Plasma emblem. This makes it much easier to spot Plasma Pokémon, of course.
It also makes it easier to tell which Pokémon are not Plasma Pokémon, even if we only have a low quality or incomplete image, which is why it is all but confirmed that only the final Stage of an Evolution line will be a “Plasma” Pokémon. It is possible but unlikely that the cards revealed have skirted around Evolving Plasma Pokémon as part of some intentional psyche out by PR, but everything we’ve seen from this set that Evolves (and that isn’t a lot) is clearly not a Plasma Pokémon; no text box in the upper-right-hand corner of the image, no Team Plasma crest in the background of the Ability/Attack text area.
This is pretty huge because it will allow the Plasma Pokémon to mix and match with their unaligned counterparts and emphasize that Plasma is not a part of the names in anyway. This seems like a cross between the old Dark-in-name Pokémon that represented Team Rocket (and is why in the TCG the Pokémon/Energy Type is Darkness and not just plain “Dark” like in the video games) and the Level Up mechanic (that is, the various Pokémon LV.X)
You can easily run Klinklang (Plasma) alongside an older version, but you can’t exceed four copies total of cards named Klinklang: you cannot have a deck with four of an older Klinklang and four of Klinklang (Plasma) because they are considered to have the same name, just like the various LV.X upgrades of Pokémon were considered to have the same name as that which they Leveled-Up from. Since the lower Stages of a line will not be Plasma Pokémon, and can Evolve into either, this makes them much easier to work with than the old “Dark-in-name” Pokémon.
Cubchoo and Beartic: These were revealed shortly after my previous update, and part of why I held off doing one immediately afterwards. The Cubchoo was mostly special for demonstrating that Evolving Basic Pokémon wouldn’t be considered Plasma Pokémon, though 70 HP is adequate and so are the attacks; I’d prefer something that improved its odds of survival/sped up the set-up of Beartic, but inexpensive (even if a bit unreliable) spread can be useful for opening, and if you had to attack with it to finish something off, 30 for (CCC) isn’t awful.
Beartic has just enough HP to take some effort to OHKO, and an attack that actually works well with “barely surviving” (I couldn’t resist the pun). Power Rage can be readied in a single turn if you must, thanks to Colress Machine and Plasma Energy. 20 points of damage per damage counter is just enough to be scary; an opponent who is aggressive but fails to take out Cubchoo is setting up for a potential OHKO right back.
If Cubchoo doesn’t take any damage and you were able to drop an Energy onto it first turn, you can use Colress Machine and your manual Energy attachment to meet the (WWC) required for Iceberg Drop. 90 points of damage isn’t going to OHKO almost anything, but it is enough to matter and the discard from the top of your opponent’s deck is more likely to hurt than help. Also, note the Metal Weakness; as of right now that may be the worst Weakness or it may be average after this set, since Metal-Type Pokémon we know are getting a great anti-Pokémon EX effect from Klinklang (Plasma). Regardless, Heavy Ball will work with that Retreat.
Plasma Frigate: Damage doubling Weakness has been a major factor in the game since it returned: for a brief time, most cards had slightly variable “+X” damage, where X was a number specific to that card, like +10 or +20, upwards of +40 I believe.
Having seen more Plasma Pokémon, Plasma Energy and Colress Machine are likely to be in most if not all such decks, and this will be as well. Even if you had to, for example, drop a Plasma Energy from hand manually on your Mewtwo EX, it also means you’ll win Mewtwo EX wars. Doing the same for something like Zekrom EX means you now have something hitting for an amazing 150 points of damage that isn’t getting OHKOed by Retaliate or Pump Up Smash (courtesy of Terrakion and Terrakion EX).
Yes, another Stadium can easily counter this, and that will be happening. Also Enhanced Hammer or a lucky Crushing Hammer likewise end the protection… but it is protection you had to deal with. After all, think of the times you’ll use a Hammer on a Pokémon in order to enable the OHKO, when without Plasma Frigate you could have used the Hammer on your opponent’s next most likely attacker?
Rotom: Possibly a solid opening for Eelektrik based decks, but I really don’t know. You’ll need your Bench to set-up pretty fast since 60 HP isn’t much even before Weakness. Boltergeist (besides being a delicious pun I hope actually ends up being the name) is a decent attack if you can catch your opponent with a fat hand; even if you do little to no damage, at least you saw your opponent’s hand. Since it is a Plasma Pokémon, that means you might be able to donk with Boltergeist first turn (Colress Machine plus manual attachment)!
Amoongus: Um… no? Unreliable search effect as an attack on a Stage 1, and weak and unreliable second attack for a single Special Condition, even if it is of your choice, is an annoyance at best. Even as a Plasma Pokémon.
Monferno and Infernape: Torment could have strategic use against the unprepared; between just being a fast attack (Stage 2, but a single Energy) and perhaps following up with Hammer Spam, your opponent may never get to hit back. Hell Fire (that is probably getting changed) could be used each turn so long as your supply of Colress Machine/Plasma Energy was undisturbed. Even if that is just two or three fast hits, that will hurt!
Druddigon: Solely to try and take out smaller Dragon-Type Pokémon early game: Dragon claw is really poorly priced. Still, the first attack can use Double Colorless Energy or Colress Machine/Plasma Energy to go off first turn, and with the HP and damage reduction, probably an Eviolite as well, it can make your opponent work hard for what should have been an easy first Prize.
Beheeyam: Interesting, but I don’t know if it will be effective; if you use Pokémon Catcher and the first attack to soft lock something up front, and it can’t hurt you, how are you supposed to make use of the second attack to shunt damage counters from your Pokémon to the opponent’s. For the Energy going into the second attack, six damage counters worth of healing and six worth of spread damage isn’t really that much, especially from a probable OHKO (as Beheeyam only has 90 HP).
Scrafty: May be in worse shape than Beheeyam. Neither of its attacks is especially good, though they aren’t totally bad, either. It seems to be a step up from past Scrafty, but the designers likely still have a ways to go before it’s going to be something worth running. The biggest way for me to be wrong is if Plasma Pokémon get some really nifty Pokémon Tools/Pokémon Tool Support, or if what we have already seen is enough to create a reliable turn two Dark Claw enhanced “Fortified Head” for 120, and that the combination of such fast damage and disruption (like the Hammers) are enough to keep Scrafty alive long enough to take some Prizes.
Golbat: It let us know that a Stage 1 that Evolves into a Stage 2 (Plasma) Pokémon isn’t also going to be a Plasma Pokémon. Otherwise, it looks a bit lame with only 80 HP and a weak does 20/heals 20 attack for (PC).
Colress: For those wondering, yes I now know that this was named after a character from the games and not the TCG Type. I haven’t played any of Black or White, let alone their sequels, so forgive me for giving the translation team too much credit for picking such an annoying name. If they wanted a pun from Colorless, why not something like Cole R. S. or something easier to pronounce?
There’s going to be a good reason for his irritating name, isn’t there?
Complaining about the name aside, his card seems pretty amazing; this is like a shuffle-and-draw version of Steven’s Advice. In fact, if the translations have all vital details accurate, it may be even better: you count up how many Benched Pokémon both players have, shuffle your hand into your deck, and then draw that many cards! Even if your opponent has a deck that is meant to have no Bench, you can just plan to fill your own and get a good five card draw, equal to Professor Oak’s Research. Most of the time you should be drawing at least six cards (from some combination of both players’ Benches); equivalent to a Professor Oak’s New Theory.
First turn, and possibly the first few turns if players become cautious about helping the opposing player gain access to good draw power, Colress may prove to be a bit weak. Still, a Supporter whose maximum gross draw power is twice that of Steven’s Advice, gets half that number from your Bench size (something you can try to control), and lacks the restrictive clause Steven’s Advice had (you couldn’t use it if your hand contained seven or more card’s, including Steven’s Advice).
We’ve been hoping for a new shuffle and draw card, and this will likely become a fixture of most decks. I can’t say whether it will become something you max out or that you only run two or three copies of, nor do I see any reason to run just one copy.
Poison Hypnotic Beam: I don’t know why you exist Poison Hypnotic Beam, but I am just glad that you do! This is a pretty nasty card, and if it wasn’t for its inability to “stack” I would expect it to replace PlusPower in decks that still used PlusPower. Its effect is guaranteed Poison, plus a 50% chance of Hypnosis. It sounds too good to be true; I greatly fear the card was translated a bit backwards. I could see automatically inducing Sleep and then having a 50% chance of Poison.
Taking the translation at face value, the Sleep effect mostly matters for Pokémon like Ninetales, as it has an attack (Hexed Flame) that does 20 damage plus 50 per Special Condition on the Defending Pokémon. Sadly this won’t stack with it’s apparently default partner of Amoongus (Sporprise version); it inflicts Poison and Confusion, which ever effect went second would be overridden by the former. Otherwise, between the risk of Poison Hypnotic Beam failing and Sleep naturally curing itself between turns, there’s only about a 25% chance your opponent will Sleep through their turn… before factoring in your opponent actually doing something about the Special Conditions.
Virbank City Gym may become a mainstay of several decks and rival for Plasma Frigate, because when combined with Poison Hypnotic Beam, the two would easily replace PlusPower; that would be a total of three damage counters between turns! Regardless of protective effects as well; some players who are bold and clever… or else utterly foolish could ignore concerns about their Pokémon EX getting through Pokémon like Sigilyph that can hide behind its Safeguard Ability; just drop the Stadium and use Poison Hypnotic Beam! Assuming they can’t deal with it.
The upcoming Raticate features an attack that, while pricey at (CCC), drops the Defending Pokémon down to just 10 HP… which Poison would finish off for an almost always guaranteed OHKO. A similar strategy was employed with Liability decks from years ago; though in that case the attack was the easy part and scoring the last damage counter was the tricky finisher. Since the Raticate has only 60 HP, it would very much be a “glass cannon” at best.
While it would be insanely hard to use such an assault over and over again more than a few times, such decks will likely have something else as a finisher and/or opening attacker. Either Raticate would shred an opponent’s early offense to prevent set-up while the sweeper takes the last few Prizes or something that hits hard and fast opens to earn the first few needed Prizes, or once your opponent has a big, fat, juicy Pokémon EX prepared, you spring Raticate on it for a quick OHKO worth two Prizes.
As these cards were covered once, I’ll just state (or in some cases) restate how the further reveals affect these cards.
Crobat: Still very hard to predict; drawing a single card didn’t prove overly useful for several Stage 1 Pokémon, but maybe with all the Plasma goodies it will work for a Stage 2. Still too early to know if Virbank City Gym is compatible with Deadly Poison Fangs; as usual if the translations are accurate then it is, but that seems too good to be true… though even 40 + 6 damage counters is just “good” and not “great”. While it can use Colress Machine and Plasma Energy for speed, Double Colorless Energy will likely be more useful.
Skarmory, Bouffalant and Team Plasma Ball: I have still found no translations for these cards. This isn’t a huge surprise since the text for each is obscured to some degree by the other cards in the image, and I don’t know if higher resolution images are easy to come by for would-be translators. At least this confirms that Basic Pokémon can be Plasma Pokémon and that the crest seems to be another indicator of the status; notice both the text box on the card image and the crest are present on Team Plasma Ball as well.
Klinklang: This pretty much confirms that Shift Gear based decks aren’t going away. I don’t know if they’ll try to maintain hitting diverse Types plus run this Klinklang, the Shift Gear Klinklang, and at least one solid Metal Type attacker to hide behind against Pokémon EX decks, if they will learn to focus more on actual Metal-Type Pokémon plus a few key splashed in attackers, or if we’ll see both as variants of the same major deck Type, but no matter what it won’t be going away.
Lugia EX, Colress Machine and Plasma Energy: As Lugia EX is still a Plasma Pokémon, I believe it will now stand a much better chance of seeing play. With more Plasma Pokémon possessing at least one attack with a (C) requirement, maxed out Colress Machine and Plasma Energy are more likely. The main threat is that you’ll have already used up your Plasma Energy before you get to that surprise finishing blow.
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