It’s not hard to say that I haven’t quite found much of a liking for a lot of decks in this new format of play in the post-catcher world. There is definitely a lot of versatility in the format right now, but it can be frustrating going into tournaments knowing your deck has bad matchups that you can’t really do much about.
That’s not to say that every format doesn’t have that same type of rock-paper-scissors nature to it, but this one more than other seems to really be lacking on what you can do to tech against certain cards, really highlighting this more so than ever since I’ve played the game.
There is one deck that I feel exists in this format with the freedom to expunge itself from this rps nature, and rise above it through smart deck building and the right techs, and that deck archetype is Team Plasma.
As I asserted in this article, I think Plasma has a lot of options that can be fit into the deck that can allow you to build it to deal with any type of deck you may encounter in a tournament.
In this article I will cover the two variants of Plasma that I have played in my League Challenges and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both versions of the deck.
Gold Plasma (Ho-Oh Variant)
The first new version of Plasma that I played at a League Challenge was one using the mascot of Pokemon Gold version, Ho-Oh EX, to give the deck a unique twist.
Here is a list for the first version of the deck:
Pokemon – 13
2 Thundurus EX
Trainers – 32
4 Professor Juniper
2 Ultra Ball
Energy – 15
Now this isn’t exactly the list I played for the tournament. I played a Frozen City in place of the Genesect EX, but a singleton Frozen City is largely useless and is just removed quickly by your opponent’s stadium, and Genesect’s Red Signal Ability can be the difference between winning or losing a game by taking a cheap KO in the late game.
What this version has going for it is versatility and techability. You can remove and insert pieces of the puzzle to get it right for your given meta game. For example, if Gothitelle/Accelgor is big in your area, you could put in some Grass Energy and Virizion EX, preventing your Pokemon from being inflicted by status conditions.
As you play all Basic Energy, you are a lot less vulnerable than traditional Plasma variants against hammers, and it also allows for the use of Energy Switch to move Energy around to switch up your strategy, also allowing you to accelerate Energy to your other Pokemon with Ho-Oh EX’s Rebirth Ability. Ho-Oh is also a good attacker, being able to OHKO Fire weak Pokemon like Genesect EX and Virizion EX for you.
Lastly, as you aren’t depending on Colress Machine and Raiden Knuckle for all of your Energy tricks (being able to use Energy Switch now), it opens you up to using a wider array of Pokemon in your deck, which can help against Silver Mirror as well as give you better options for dealing with various meta game threats. In this list, I played 2 non-Plasma Pokemon with Terrakion and Ho-Oh.
Here is how my tournament played out:
Round 1 – Zebstrika NXD/Darkrai EX/Mew EX
This is a scary matchup because they can put a Silver Mirror on Zebstrika and use Disconnect, locking you from using Items, as well as preventing you from attacking with your Plasma Pokemon, as you can’t use your Tool Scrappers to remove the Silver Mirror.
In this matchup, I got a Kyurem powered up early and used Blizzard Burn on his Mew EX for my first two prizes. From there, I retreated to Thundurus EX, and used Raiden Knuckle to start building up another Kyurem with no damage on it. In the meantime, I was able to build up a Lugia EX with a lot of Plasma Energy on it to try to get a 2-3 prize turn with Plasma Gale later in the game.
He gets a Silver Mirror on his Zebstrika and knocks out my Thundurus EX. I am able to use a Professor Juniper to discard my Ho-Oh EX and use Rebirth, and knock out his Zebstrika with Rainbow Burn. He is able to Laser lock my Ho-Oh EX, and eventually knocks it out with Night Spear. I try to respond with Terrakion, but whiff the Energy Switch to retaliate, so I choose to use Blizzard Burn for 160, making his Darkrai EX useless for the less of the game unless he wants to give me those final three prizes with Lugia EX.
He uses Disconnect on the Kyurem, while using Dowsing Machine to get back the Silver Mirror. I retreat to Terrakion and use Retaliate for 60, threatening to KO the Zebstrika on the next turn. He retreats to Sableye to Junk Hunt back in Dowsing Machine, and then I whiff the Energy Retrieval to use Land Crush for the knockout, so I just attach a Lightning so I can retreat Terrakion if need be and use N to try to leave him out of the Dowsing Machine for Silver Mirror.
During the turn he Disconnected I believe time was called. On his Turn 2 he is able to get a Professor Juniper I believe as well as the Dowsing Machine to get Silver Mirror and disconnects knocking out my Terrakion. I attempt to Rebirth but fail on Turn 3, so the game ends in a tie…kind of.
The judges were a little confused on the tie rules so I was given a loss as in the old rules as he was ahead by a prize, even though it was a tie by the new rules. Basically, had the game played out, if I hit Rebirth over the next two turns I would have won, otherwise I would have lost. I think this game highlights just how powerful this type of version can be in dealing with Silver Mirror abuse, while in the past that would have just been an auto loss for Plasma.
Another note, a Red Signal from Genesect EX would have won me the game at any point after I used Blizzard Burn on that Darkrai EX.
Round 2 – Latias EX and Stuff
This wasn’t a really competitive deck and I was just able to Blizzard Burn and Frost Spear a bunch for six prizes.
Round 3 – Darkrai EX/Absol PLF/Spiritomb LTR
This was a fairly interesting game with a lot of back and forth exchanges. I was able to strike first blood, knocking out a Darkrai EX in combination of Raiden Knuckle and Blizzard Burn. He then responded to that with an Absol for the knock out. I hit heads on Rebirth, and knocked out the Absol with Rainbow Burn.
From there, I move towards setting up Terrakion and use Retaliate to knockout a Darkrai EX at some point. He whiffs the response so I attach another Fighting and a Silver Bangle and N him to one. All he can do is put forward Keldeo EX, which I hit for 120, and then everything is in range of knock out from my Terrakion’s Land Crush so I win the game as he can’t draw out of it.
Round 4 – Flareon PLF/Drifblim PLB/Leafeon
This is another interesting matchup in that it is formerly a deck that Plasma would just fold to and basically take an auto loss, but with the switch to Basic Energy and non-Plasma attackers, it isn’t as bad of a matchup as it previously was.
In this game, I’m shut off from using Thundurus EX early, because I stumble a bit and he powers up a Terrakion right away. My strategy in this matchup is to largely use non-EX attackers to create an even back and forth prize exchange in which I get ahead at some point. I think the sequence of attackers I used was Kyurem –> Kyurem –> Terrakion –> Kyurem to make the most of my non-EX attackers. I don’t remember a lot of this, but there was a nice spot where I was able to setup a Frost Spear with Rebirth/Scramble Switch in what was an otherwise hapless looking field.
The game works its way down to one prize for me, two prizes for him. At this point, I am out of non-EX’s, and see Thundurus Noise and Plasma Gale as my two best options to win the game, as Helix Force would fall 10 damage short of the knockouts I need. Unfortunately, during this phase, I had to attach a Plasma Energy to my Thundurus EX instead of a Basic Energy, making it vulnerable to Enhanced Hammer. I use Raiden Knuckle to hit a Drifblim for 60, and put a Lightning on Lugia EX to be Energy Switched to Thundurus later. He hits heads on a catcher to bring up my Deoxys, retreats to Flareon, and used Tropical Beach…while also using Enhanced Hammer to remove that Plasma I attached to Thundurus EX.
I’m out of N, so I can’t use that to try to disrupt him from getting the Energy needed to win. I need to win now, or else probably lose. All I have is Professor Juniper, so I have to hope to get my last Colress Machine, but not draw into the Plasma Energy. I draw the Plasma instead and all I can do is Energy Switch the Lightning and attach, and hope he whiffs. He has an Ultra Ball and Professor Juniper to get the last few Pokemon he needed in the discard for the OHKO with Flareon and wins.
One note for this game, Lugia EX was the 5th prize card I drew in the game. That was just too late, and it prevented me from getting it setup with my Scramble Switch at any point, which prevented me from having those two prize turns that are crucial for Plasma in the matchup.
Round 5 – Darkrai EX/Absol PLF
He starts a lone Darkrai EX, with no Supporters, so I’m thinking maybe I can just bench him on turn 2 with Thundurus Noise. He does top deck the Supporter on turn 2 and is able to get another Pokemon, so that plan goes out the window.
I do use Thundurus Noise though to knock out the Darkrai for my first two prizes. He knocks out my Thundurus with Absol, which I knock out with a Rainbow Birth with Ho-Oh EX. He isn’t able to ever get anything else setup, and I have the Switches to counteract his Lasers, and just run through the rest of his deck with Rainbow Burn.
I didn’t have the best record for this tournament, but the deck performed really well, winning the matchups it should have and going toe to toe with essentially are two Plasma hate decks.
I was amazed with how often Rainbow Burn came into play, but the ability to power up an attacker out of nowhere is certainly strong.
Silver Plasma (Aggressive Lugia EX Variant)
The second version of Plasma that I played was a version of the deck that aims to aggressively use Lugia EX to gain prizes on the opponent and speed up the game tempo in your favor beyond what the opponent can keep up with.
The concept I based mine off of is one that Kevin Baxter has been dominating tournaments with. I am sure my list is a bit different than his to deal with different meta game threats and what not, but the core concept is the same.
Here is my list for that deck:
Pokemon – 10
2 Thundurus EX
Trainers – 36
4 Professor Juniper
2 Ultra Ball
Energy – 14
Again, this isn’t the exact list I used for the tournament. I swapped out a Shadow Triad for a Mr. Mime before the tournament because about 70 percent of the meta was Big Basics and Darkrai variants, so I thought shutting off Bench Damage would be important but this was largely negligible in these matchups.
Some notable features of this iteration of the deck compared to past builds is the addition of Snorlax, which is really a great attacker. It does take five Energy, but with Raiden Knuckle and Scramble Switch, it can be powered up and it swings for 180 which is great for taking down EX’s and is also good against Safeguard Pokemon. Additionally, Snorlax has its Block Ability, which prevents the Active Pokemon from retreating which adds a level of depth of strategy to the deck giving you alternate routes to win your gams.
Snorlax was in the initial Plasma lists out of Japan, but got cut from lists stateside and I think this may have been a mistake on the part of American players, as Teampact is a really strong attack, and Block a great Ability.
Lastly, Genesect EX is in here with a lot of support to abuse its Red Signal Ability. Red Signal is very important as it lets you re-bring up Pokemon to use Plasma Gale against, and it lets you take knockouts in the correct order to better achieve your strategy of taking six prizes.
Hypnotoxic Laser without Virbank might be silly, but I added them to the deck to aide in knocking out Sableye with Raiden Knuckle, as against Darkrai, once you knockout all the Sableye to shutoff their hammer shenanigans you really take control of the matchup.
Here is how this tournament played out:
Round 1 – Ho-Oh EX/Big Basics
I just dead draw for most of the game, and get Gold Breaker’d to death. I was able to make him use a lot of Switch early, so if I ever did draw out of it, I was going to Red Signal up his Mr. Mime and Block him with Snorlax to force a draw, but I couldn’t draw out of it and got benched in this game. I don’t think this is a particularly good matchup for the deck though.
Round 2 – Ninjask/Shedinja
This is a bit of an annoying deck to play against but it isn’t terrible, especially for this deck. In this matchup you just want to take some early KO’s with Thundurus EX, while setting up your Lugia EX. And then you use Red Signal to bring up the Ninjask’s and knock them out for two prizes. Additionally, you can use Snorlax to block their Shedinja or Sigilyph from retreating, which I did do in this matchup.
This game had a premature ending though, as during my Block shenanigans, my opponent played a Pokemon Communication which is no longer in the legal sets, and was given a game loss for that.
Round 3 – Empoleon
I don’ think there is much of a better matchup for this deck than this. It’s like the deck is built to counter it, as Thundurus EX can pick off their little guys with Raiden Knuckle, and then Lugia EX exchanges well with the Stage 2’s by taking two prizes on them.
In this matchup, I was able to knockout his Emolga on turn one with Raiden Knuckle, and started setting up a Lugia. I then Raiden Knuckle his Mewtwo EX for a couple turns as he struggles to get setup. From there I Plasma Gale his Mewtwo EX for 3 more prizes to take 4 total, and he has no response so Lugia EX can just Plasma Gale for game and he scoops.
Round 4 – Plasma
This was more of a standard TDK Plasma. I use Raiden Knuckle early to setup my Lugia EX and put damage on his field. I have Lugia EX setup on either turn two or three. On turn 2 I think, he brought it up with Catcher or Escape Rope and hit it with Helix Force for 120. I use Red Signal with Genesect to bring up a Deoxys I hit with Raiden Knuckle, and hit it with Plasma Gale for three prizes. He whiffs the cards to respond with Kyurem for an attack, so I work on setting up a Snorlax as backup, and Plasma Gale a Kyurem for two more prizes and have Snorlax one Energy attachment away from being ready to knockout whatever he may have for my final prizes.
Round 5 – Hydreigon
I am not sure exactly how this game played out throughout, but what I remember is getting off a lot of Raiden Knuckle early, but can’t get any Energy in the discard to accelerate, so I don’t get too much utility out of this with all of the damage just being Max Potioned off.
He knocks out my Thundurus EX with Night Spears, and then I use Red Signal to bring up his Hydreigon and knock it out with Plasma Gale for three prizes. From there, he has another Hydreigon and knocks out the Lugia with Dragonblast. From there I go to what any sane man does when in a situation like this, and play down two Snorlax, and Block the Hydreigon, while manually attaching to the other Snorlax.
He Dragonblasts the Snorlax for the knockout, going down to 1 prize, and leaving himself with two Energy. I promote my other Snorlax, attach a DCE and have a decision to make. I can either Juniper or Colress, I need to hit Colress Machine but not the Plasma Energy to get the fifth Energy on Snorlax. I choose to Colress for 9, as that will put some cards back in my deck to not be the Plasma Energy while giving me strong draw to try to get the Colress Machine. First card I draw is the Plasma, and I just pass. He attaches an Energy, plays Professor Juniper, drawing out his deck, but his last Dark Patch is prized so he decks out for the loss.
I finished this tournament with a 4-1 record which was good enough to give me 3rd Place and +10 Championship Points to put me at a total of 40 for the season. Additionally, I can add Thundurus EX and Snorlax PLS to Gotta Catch Em’ All!
This version of the deck is amazingly strong in it’s raw power. Lugia EX speeds up the game by prize gaining with Overflow, and Snorlax is a beast that can hit for 180.
What the deck gives up in type versatility from the other version, it gains in power, as well as new versatility in being able to abuse Red Signal thanks to Shadow Triad, as well as add new strategy paths with Block.
I think the deck probably has some problems with Big Basic decks, but I think that’s absent in most normal meta games (St. Louis never can be normal haha), so I think the deck is a pretty safe play.
I hope with this article and my tournament experiences I have been able to show you the power and versatility of Plasma in the new format.
Plasma will definitely be a deck that I test highly headed into Regional Championships, and while I’ll probably jump around decks for City Championships a bit, Plasma will always be there as a good standby if nothing is really popping out to me. Plasma is truly a great deck for the new format.