To wrap up the series on the format, the Fincastle Pokemon Gym is going to look a little at the new set, Plasma Storm, and how it may impact the decks that we reviewed and what new decks may come out of it. We hoped to get to this article a little sooner, but between basketball season and dance classes, the Gym Leaders have a little busy this week. Without further ado, let’s take a look.
The Plasma Storm release brings with it the beginning of a game mechanic that most of you at our league have probably not seen before. Those who have played for a while, particularly through the Platinum series, will relate this mechanic to the “SP” cards of that set. In Platinum, Pokemon released a series of SP (stood for Special Pokemon) characters with Trainer/Supporter/Stadium cards designed to boost the attacks and speed of those special Pokemon. The mechanic in Plasma Storm does this under the name of “Team Plasma”, the “bad guys” from the Black & White video games. While this set has a rather limited number of Team Plasma Pokemon, Trainers and Stadiums, future sets will broaden the card pool into a more complete engine.
The first cards to look at are “Plasma Energy” and “Colress Machine”. Plasma energy is a special energy card (so only 4 per deck) that provides a single Colorless energy to whoever it is attached to. What’s special about that? Nothing by itself, but the cards that accompany it will definitely raise an eyebrow or 2. The “Colress Machine” Trainer Item allows you to search your deck for a Plasma Energy and attach it to a “Team Plasma” Pokemon. This does not count as your energy attachment for your turn, so it allows you to attach more than 1 energy in 1 turn. The fact that Colress Machine is an Item card means that you can play more than 1 in a turn if you have them in your hand. Put 2 &2 together….. this game mechanic could allow you to attach more than 2 energy in a turn, more importantly in your opening turn, if you plan your deck build correctly. This type of mechanic in Pokemon usually leads to the design of decks built to “donk” (winning the game on your opening turn by knocking out your opponent’s only Pokemon, before they ever take their turn). Donk decks are not very popular among the majority of players, but they have existed since we started playing and are part of the game. What usually keeps these decks at bay is the fact that it is difficult to build a deck that pulls this off consistently.
The lead “donker” in this set will likely be Lugia EX. His Colorless typing allows Lugia to take full advantage of this mechanic. The 4 energy cost of his attack will limit how often someone can get the 1st turn attack. Where we at the Gym think Lugia EX will shine (donk decks aside) lies in its ability, “Overflow”. This ability allows you to take 1 additional prize card when you KO an opposing Pokemon. This means 2 prizes cards if you KO a regular Pokemon, but more importantly, 3 prize cards when you KO an EX Pokemon. This could easily swing a tight match in your favor or even end the game if you do it at the right time. Because of its Colorless energy cost, Lugia EX plugs in nicely to all of the decks we reviewed. Energy accelerators like Blastoise, Eelektrik and Darkrai, as well as energy movers like Hydregion and Klinklang can all take full advantage of Lugia.
There are several other interesting Trainer Item, Supporter and Stadium cards. One of the most notable of these was the “Team Plasma Frigate” Stadium card. It states that any Pokemon with a Team Plasma energy card attached to it (not just Team Plasma Pokemon, but ALL Pokemon) has no weakness. Removing weaknesses from powerful attackers, especially EX’s (like Darkrai and Mewtwo) could do some very interesting things to the format. The challenge with this scenario is that you can only have 4 Plasma energies in your deck, so maintaining this advantage might be difficult. Another powerful card combo from Plasma Storm is the “Hypnotoxic Laser” Item card paired with the “Virbank City Gym” Stadium. The stadium alone boosts all Pokemon that add the special condition “Poisoned” with their attacks. The “Laser” can give this boost to any attacker, as it poisons your opponent and may add the condition “Asleep”, depending on the coin flip. The new “Ether” Item card (flip over top card of your deck and if it is a basic energy card, attach it to 1 of your Pokemon) combined with the existing Item “Pokedex”, can provide another form of energy acceleration to any Pokemon. Much like Lugia EX, these card combos can be added to any deck. The trick, as always, is finding room for the cards in your build.
In addition to Lugia EX, there are many intruiging attackers in the set. Black Kyurem EX boasts an enormous attack (200 damage) and could fit into either the Blastoise/Keldeo build (could even replace Keldeo) or an Eeletrik build as its energy requirements match both. Team Plasma Infernape and Beartic both have nice attacks and can take full advantage of this set’s engine and be the center pieces of their own decks. Crobat played with “Virbank City” can definitely pile some damage on an opponent quickly. Perhaps the most interesting deck that will come out of the set comes in one of Gym Leader Joel’s favorite types, Steel types. Team Plasma Klinklang and its ability provides protection to all Steel types from any opposing EX. The exceptions being those with attacks that ignore all effects on the defending Pokemon, namely the existing Giratina EX and the new Cobalion EX. Once this Klinklang is in play, the best attackers in the game (Keldeo EX, Mewtwo EX, Darkrai EX, Tornadus EX) are powerless against Steel types. This will not shatter the format by any means, but it will require most builds to add a good, non-EX attacker or 2 to deal with this deck. Not all are convinced that this deck, dubbed “Plasma Klang”, will see the top tables, but we feel that in the right hands, it will definitely find a home among the best in the format.
There are many other very playable cards in Plasma Storm and we are not going to try to cover them all. As the “Team Plasma” engine expands over the next few sets, some cards that may not be that strong at the moment may become very good. Creative deck builders always come up with cool and sometimes surprising combos. Take a good look at all the cards from this set when you can, but definitely look at the cards we’ve focused on in this post, as we at the Fincastle Pokemon Gym feel these cards will have an immediate impact in competitive play. Look back over our articles on the format and some of the lists we’ve posted. Some of these cards will plug in easily to these decks, while it may take to figuring on how to make room in some of the lists.
Our suggestion is to do what we do, make small changes with these cards to decks that you know are good and see how (if at all) they improve the deck. As always, if you don’t have the card, try out a proxy (printed copy) of the card 1st and see if it works the way you want it to before you buy it. Bring your deck to any Gym Leader at league if you want some help on a build. We could not include scans of all the cards mentioned, so if you want a better look at some of them, just search them by name on the internet and you should find them easily. Enjoy testing out the new set. See you at the Gym!