Pooka’s Poké-Thoughts #1: Plasma Storm – Good or Bad?

When a new set of cards is released, I do my best to figure out a few things. What cards are actually good from the set, and just how good are they? Do any of them change the metagame? Do I have to change the way my decks are built now? Are games quicker or slower now that a certain card is out? For example, when Mewtwo EX came out last season, the game got flipped upside down. All of a sudden, we saw games ending as quickly as the third turn, and everybody’s decks had to adapt. So, do we have any “Mewtwos” with Plasma Storm? I haven’t tested too much with the new set, but here are my initial thoughts on how competitive play will change with Plasma Storm.

Stadiums will become necessary in nearly every deck.

Welcome to Laser City.

Welcome to Laser City.

Hypnotoxic Laser is the real deal, folks. At every point in the game, the card is a powerhouse – and especially in the first few turns. But the Laser is only so strong because of Virbank City Gym. Getting pinged by Poison for 10 every turn is annoying, but damage adds up quickly when that 10 becomes 30. Clearly your first solution is going to be adding ways to switch out of the Active spot, whether that be Switch, Escape Rope, or Keldeo EX. If you’re feeling particularly cheeky, Full Heal and Audino are other options. However, these won’t always be enough. If you miss a turn of getting rid of that Poison, your Active is as good as gone. So, you’ll probably have to start running Stadium cards of your own. Of course, if you’re already running Lasers yourself, you’ll be running Virbank. But for those other decks, you’ll have to find a counter. Currently your viable options are Skyarrow Bridge, Pokémon Center, Tropical Beach, Battle City, and perhaps Plasma Frigate. If you can win the Stadium war with your opponent, you can nullify the Hypnotoxic Laser threat. Oh, and does anyone else think that Hypnotoxic Laser is an obnoxious name for a card? Not looking forward to typing and saying that so often in the future.

Poor draws are much less forgiving now.

When you introduce a combo like Laser + Virbank into the format, games naturally speed up; it’s simple to generate a bunch of damage in a short amount of time. Now, there are a few consequences to this. If you don’t draw into multiple Pokémon early on, odds are you aren’t going to survive very long, regardless of what Pokémon it is. Starting with a non-EX is scarier than ever, too. Now even your Sableyes and Emolgas aren’t safe from a quick Laser + Virbank + attack from Tornadus EX or Mewtwo EX! In addition, if you don’t draw a way to get rid of that Poison early on, you can lose an EX by the second or third turn. Sure, you always have N at your disposal to make comebacks, but your window of time to draw out of these situations is smaller now. Once the Laser + Virbank hits, the clock starts ticking. The pressure is on a lot earlier and a lot more often.

Blastoise is sticking around.

With the addition of Laser + Virbank into the format, it’s not unreasonable to think that a Stage 2 deck would be phased out. When you think about it, all of the math works against Blastoise. Tornadus EX can Blow Through for a KO on Squirtle when a Stadium is in play. Landorus EX + Laser + Virbank can Hammerhead for a perfect KO on Squirtle. Darkrai EX + Dark Claw + Laser + Virbank hits the magical 140 damage with a Night Spear to KO Blastoise. Heck, even a Sableye + Dark Claw + Laser + Virbank can KO a Squirtle with Confuse Ray! Still, Keldeo EX is pretty good, especially because it can get out of Status effects. Right now I haven’t figured out if it’s better to roll with the old fashioned Blastoise/Keldeo or if Black Kyurem EX is the way to go. No matter what math works against Blastoise, hitting for 200 with Black Ballista sure is a big middle finger to all the other Pokémon-EX in the format. It’s really tough to ignore that raw power, but can you afford to discard three Energy every turn? We’ll find out, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Blastoise decks will stick around.

Plasma Klinklang is weird.

Is Klinklang too clunky?

Is Klinklang too clunky?

On paper, Plasma Steel seems like a ridiculous Ability. None of my Metal Pokémon can be damaged by Pokémon-EX? Jackpot! Most decks in the format rely on attacking with those things! Well, here’s the problem. Metal is one of the worst types in the game. Weakness to Fire is pretty unfortunate, seeing as V-Create Victini is one of the few non-EX Pokémon we have in the format that can do a large amount of damage. To make things worse, it requires only one Fire Energy to use, which makes it easy to splash into decks. Moltres is another option for a Fire attacker. So, if Klinklang ever does get popular, it’s easy to keep in check. On top of that, there really aren’t any great Metal attackers. Sure, Cobalion EX can 2HKO everything in the format with Steel Bullet, but it doesn’t actually OHKO too many things. What are your other options? Registeel EX, Cobalion (Iron Breaker), and Klinklang honestly seem to be the only other attackers. Lucario can work, but the Riolu will be vulnerable until it evolves. Finally, you have no Energy acceleration available. If you’re up against a deck still using Sableye + Crushing Hammer, you’re going to just run out of Energy. Then you will die a slow, painful death to Confuse Rays. Even if they don’t run Hammers, a constant barrage of Lasers and Confuse Rays can bring you to your knees. It’s not pretty. Whenever I win a game with this deck, it’s a huge struggle that takes forever. Maybe I’m using it incorrectly, but I don’t see the appeal of Klinklang.

Scramble Switch can make a huge impact.

When making decks before, choosing my Ace Spec was pretty simple. Unless I was using my Quad Rayquaza deck, Computer Search was the first card I put into everything. Sure, Gold Potion crossed my mind, but CPU got the nod every time. Now my choice is a lot tougher. In most decks, you could make the case for Scramble Switch, Dowsing Machine, or Computer Search. In my early testing, I’ve been favoring Scramble Switch, though. At first I just wanted to see what it could do. But the more I played with it, the more I liked it. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been using it in decks with Lugia EX, but it really does feel like the most powerful Ace Spec out of all of them. If you haven’t already, give Scramble Switch a try! It’s a fun card.

Most of your ideas with Stage 2 Pokémon won’t work.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but most Stage 2 Pokémon aren’t going to survive this format. Sure, Crobat seems promising, but a little testing against a simple Sableye/Darkrai/Laser deck might make you change your mind pretty quickly. “But Pooka, Gallade can do infinite damage! It goes so well with Gardevoir!” you might say. The fact of the matter is, if your deck revolves around attacking with Stage 2 Pokémon, it just isn’t going to work. Getting a Stage 2 out is too much hassle, and normally the attack costs are too expensive. Unfortunately, Plasma Storm just brought more help to those big Basic Pokémon-EX everyone loves so much. When will our good old Evolutions catch a break? Not in the foreseeable future.

Lugia EX is pretty good.

It looks pretty sweet, too.

It looks pretty sweet, too.

Okay, hear me out. Can you build a deck with just Lugia EX as the main attacker? Well, no. Since Plasma Gale does only 120 damage, it doesn’t exactly hit too many magic numbers for OHKOs. Then you have the nasty drawback of having to discard a Plasma Energy to use its attack, which you can play only four of. Not to mention it takes four Energy to use. Does this make it bad? Of course not! Overflow is a ridiculous Ability, and the attack requires only Colorless Energy! I still haven’t figured out the best way to use this big bird, but I’m convinced that it’s very powerful. With Colress Machine, DCE, and Scramble Switch, it’s not extremely difficult to power Lugia up. Being able to KO a Sableye for two prizes or any EX for three prizes is absurdly good. If there’s a comeback card in the format, this is it. Being able to swoop in with this thing to take your last prizes is very reminiscent of Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND in Emboar decks.

Overall, Plasma Storm is a very good set with a ton of powerful cards. How is it for the health of the game, though? At first glance, I’m going to say that this set is bad for competitive play. When you add more cards that can dish out lots of damage quickly, you put more emphasis on going first, being aggressive, and drawing well. If you’re a fan of incredible games decided by strategy and clever plays, you probably won’t like what this set does to Pokémon. From a spectator’s point of view, games are going to be fast paced and exciting, though. So, while it may not be great for the players, at least it makes for a good show!


26 responses to “Pooka’s Poké-Thoughts #1: Plasma Storm – Good or Bad?”

  1. Aaron Wang

    Great blog Kyle, but I told you, you never need to say hypnotoxic laser, its just pew pew 😛 but I also agree on this set being bad for competitive play, it makes games go by a lot faster which just isn’t as entertaining as a long drawn out match

  2. Sid Guimarães

    I love it! But I dont agree with “Blastoise isn’t going anywhere”. Ok, donks will be commonest (if you start with one alone squirtle, that will be very unlucky since the deck will play with 6-8 EXs pokemons), but with Black Kyurem EX the deck gets the power of OHKO with 4 energies instead of 6-7.

    The metagame will be faster now, but Landorus EX not killed Rayeels… And I think that Hypnotoxic + Virbank (Tropical Beach for Stadium War in Black Keldeoise) will not kill Blastoise deck, at least… I wish this. haha

    Sorry about my terrible english and congrats to The Top Cut for this!

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      I think you misunderstood me. I meant that Blastoise will stay around and be competitive still! It isn’t leaving the format. Black Kyurem EX is very good.

      1. Sid Guimarães

        Thanks for the answer Pooka! I really appreciate that! I hope you’re right about it, because I want to play with my Blastoise for a long time! But no doubts… LMT (and/or Big Basics) with Hypnotoxic + Virbank will turn into monsters now. lol

  3. Mykel Battaglia

    I really don’t like the addition of laserbank as cards for the game, or lugia, even though it feels cool.
    Oh well, I have a lot of testing to do for states.

  4. Joe Riggio

    I hate it. Like you said Evolutions are dead. Lasers even without Virbank are broken because item cards causing status effects break the game. This isn’t Magic the Gathering, we don’t have counterspells to use. Going first is even more absurdly broken than ever before, starting with a poisoned Pokemon with 30 damage on it at least, is just completely unfair.

  5. Ross Gilbert

    First tournament in the UK with Plasma Storm legal was won by….. KlingKlang…..

    1. baby_mario

      Most of the better UK players were at the ECC so no need to read too much into that.

  6. Jonathan Croxton

    Because hynotoxic laser is so obnoxious, i will always call it Poisinhypnotic beam!

    1. Andrew Wester


    2. Aaron Wang

      whenever u play one, just say pew pew

  7. Alex Olijar

    Pew Pew Gun is annoying. It makes donks too easy and who likes donks?

    Weird is a good word for the KKK deck- the official name of Klinkklang. It’s probably a top 5 ability that’s balanced by having crappy attackers. +1 to the balancers, although I think that happened accidently.

    I don’t think deck archetypes will change much this format. Blastoise, Eels of some variety, and Darkrai are all still really, really good. Ho-Oh will be good to great in pretty much any format because you can just change the attackers as necessary. Garbador could still be good because Blastoise is still good. Should be a good states season.

  8. Ryan Alperstein

    How do you think Eel variants will fare with PS out?

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      It feels like Eelektrik decks are finally going to be overpowered by simple decks with Darkrai and Landorus, but Dynamotor is too good to ever go away completely. So I would guess they’ll be tier 2 decks at best.

    2. Richard Andersen

      ray-eels is still as broken as ever! :)
      and zeels is pretty good aswell :)

  9. Showsni

    I’ve been playing with the new cards on PTCGO, and having quite a bit of fun. It does seem donks are more prevalent than ever, though… Maybe people will have to start running increased basic counts to compensate.

    First, the Plasma Klinklang – it really is clunky, but I haven’t lost a single match I’ve played on PTCGO with it yet. That might just say something about the competition, of course! Really, I think the point is no one on PTCGO is yet trying to counter it, so it’s currently very effective – once you get both kinds of Klinklang out, you neuter an awful lot of decks. The big EXs can’t one hit you, and for anything trying to two hit you Max Potion will dig you out. Dedicated energy disruption probably is the biggest threat (bar, say, Charizard decks), which is why it’s important to take out the Sableyes at all costs. If they can’t stream hammers you should eventually pull through. Of course, the best EX that hits through Klinklang is Cobalion itself, so in the mirror Shift Gear Klinklang is much more important.

    Scramble Switch is amazing, especially paired with Lugia – being able to drop it and take two or three prizes out of nowhere can be huge. I’m almost considering running Recycle just because it’s so good!

    I have to agree about some of the stage two decks… I just can’t get Crobat to work, which is a shame. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but it always seems to be just not quite good enough.

    And for just plain fun decks, I’ve been using Heatmor. Dealing 200 damage turn one and every turn thereafter is stupidly fun, though it doesn’t happen that often. (Heatmor, Ether, Skyla and lots of fire energy!)

  10. Andrew Wester

    What are your thoughts on Hydreigon/Lugia EX? You have energy acceleration (in both Dark Patch and Colress Machine), healing, and spread damage. Of course you can’t move Plasma Energy, but Colress Machine will make sure you have it.
    I’ve tested it some, and it seems okay, but I guess Lugia EX doesn’t work on PTCGO. Or maybe only the full art works.

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      It’s a cute idea, but it may be too many things to fit into one deck. Hydreigon is already a deck with not much room for tech, and adding Plasma Energy will be difficult. Now more than ever, consistency is key in these Stage 2 decks, so I don’t think you can afford to run Lugia in here. But it’s certainly worth a shot.

  11. Wowowiwo

    I`m really torn about scramble switch vs Comp. Search. The reason is I run in most of my decks pokemons that benefit from DCE and I never want to loose the option to Skyla – Comp Search – DCE, specially as nowadays you want to try to do big damage specially on the first turn. Scramble Switch definetly slows you down, this is probably better for decks that need to be build up like blastoise, snorlax, lugia etc.

    On the other side I wish you talked more about the pokedex + ether + recycle combo. I’ve been running this a lot and i really like it, the problem is it’s very trainer heavy and makes it hard to fit multiple copies of other trainers (like switch, catcher, lasers, tools)

    Another thing. I think countering PS klinklang its easier to be said than to be done. Teching V-create victini is a real risk, not only it has low hp, it makes you include fire or prism and it can die easily even in the first turn. Filling the bench in the right moment to attack is not that easy too! I think the best counter for KK is definetly garbodor (but not that easy to tech in every deck)

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      Agreed on Computer Search; searching for DCE is its number one strength. Nothing else can do that.

      Pokédex + Ether is powerful, but it takes up eight spots if you want it to be worthwhile. Normally you just don’t have the space for that. It has been extremely good in my Quadza deck, though!

      When running V-Create Victini to counter Klinklang, it feels like a race. Can you power it up and get a full bench before they get enough Energy in play to OHKO you? If you can, you’ll win. If not, you’ll lose. Still, it’s bad that a simple tech can ruin an entire deck.

      1. Twan

        RayEels that run emolga get their benches full around turn 2 so they will be able to get those early v-creates. I had a uy scoop to me op ptcgo since i got a T3 v-create off.

  12. nicholena moon

    I’m glad you’re doing a blog, but I think you should do it in podcast form so we can listen to your awesome commentator voice on the go!

  13. RogueChomp

    Yup, the set is horrible for the game. I call laser either “laser”, HTL, or pew pew .

    1. Aaron Wang

      it should just say on the card “pew pew” no other words

  14. Patirk

    Kyla could you shed some light on how I should go about winning the Plasma Klinklang match up with Straight Darkrai? Obviously 4 HTL and Catcher spam, but that doesn’t seem to cut it when they attack like turn 3 or 4 100 with Cobalion. Should I tech in Victini (NV 15) or something? If I do I feel like 1 wouldn’t be enough so I would run 2 Vicitni and 2-3 Fire?

    1. Patrik