Every now and then Pokemon releases a mini set in addition to our four regular expansions throughout the year. This month a new mini set, Double Crisis was released and it includes Team Magma and Team Aqua Pokemon. The cards aren’t legal for tournament play quite yet, but they will be legal for Spring Regional Championships.
The cards are sold in blister packs that come with 4 seven card packs, and Team Magma/Aqua coins and pins depending on which blister you buy. The set contains only 34-cards, and from what I experienced in the few blisters I opened, you generally will get one or two FA EX per a blister, and the important rares aren’t very hard to pull in the set either.
The set is divided into two distinct sets of cards, Team Magma and Team Aqua cards. Each division of cards work together with various Pokemon, Supporters, Items, Stadiums and Energy that all complement each other and work together. This set will give us two new archetypes, the Team Magma archetype and the Team Aqua archetype. Additionally, some of the cards could be used outside of dedicated Magma and Aqua decks to complement other strategies.
An interesting note about the cards in this set is that the pre-evolution cards are designated as either Team Magma or Team Aqua Pokemon. If you recall, the pre-evolutions of Plasma Pokemon did not receive the designation of being Plasma Pokemon so they did not work well with Plasma support cards like Frozen City or Team Plasma Ball.
In this article I will just be looking at the Team Magma cards from the set, and not the potential decks that might come from the cards from the set. As we are in the midst of State Championships it would be a misuse of time to start testing these cards now, but you can look out for some articles after State Championships conclude on decks that come out of this mini set when I get the time to start testing from this set.
Of the two groupings of cards in this set, I strongly believe that the Team Magma cards in the set are far superior to the Team Aqua cards. Not only do the cards appear to work better together as their own deck, they also seem to have better utility in other potential decks that aren’t Team Magma exclusive.
Team Magma Trainer and Energy
Magma Pointer is a Pokemon Tool card that when attached to a Team Magma Pokemon it grants them the ability to use the Magma Pointer attack. Magma Pointer does 20 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokemon (not applying weakness or resistance to benched Pokemon).
This card is very underwhelming, as you will generally have an attack available that is better than Magma Pointer. I cannot really determine yet if this card should be put into Magma decks or not, but if testing shows that the Magma decks end up in situations where they are falling 10-20 damage short of knockouts, then Magma Pointer would make a lot of sense as a 1-of to give the deck a snipe attack to finish off damaged Pokemon that your opponent moves to the bench.
I think a lot of this cards utility going forward depends on whether Double Crisis is the only set that will include Magma Pokemon or if there will be future sets that introduce more Magma Pokemon into the game. If were to end up with some future Magma Pokemon that has the Barrage Ancient Trait, Magma Pointer instantly becomes a lot more viable.
Team Magma’s Great Ball
This card is a bit disappointing in that it only targets Basic Pokemon, so you won’t be able to use it to search for Claydol or Camerupt. Additionally, the card is a bit frustrating as it only gets Fighting Energy for you and can’t be used to search out Fire Energy as well.
The card is still a good search card as it will get out your Basic Pokemon for you which is the first step in getting setup, so it probably will be a staple in Magma decks, although it most likely won’t be played as a 4-of as it would if it could target any Team Magma Pokemon.
Team Magma Admin
On the surface, this is a great recovery card, letting you quickly recoup multiple Pokemon from your discard pile. However, this card can also make for great early game search as Battle Compressor is in the format, which can let you put three Team Magma Pokemon into the discard pile from your deck and then search them out with Team Magma Admin.
It’s very easy to see a Team Magma deck using Team Magma’s Great Ball during the first turn of the game, while putting stuff like Claydol or Camerupt into the discard pile with Battle Compressor, and then using Team Magma Admin on turn 2 to get some combination of three Camerupt and Claydol.
Team Magma Grunt
This is a slightly better version of the Team Plasma Grunt Supporter card as Team Plasma Grunt couldn’t be played if you didn’t have a Team Plasma card to discard, while this version lets you play it without a Team Magma Card, just for a lessened effect. This card complements Camerupt well giving you another option for putting Energy into the discard to accelerate onto Camerupt.
Team Plasma Grunt never saw much play in Plasma decks, but I think this one will see more play, as it doesn’t have the restriction of needing a Magma card to restrict its use. It may be a little lackluster upon release, but I think the card gets better after rotation as N, the primary hand disruption card in the game will rotate out, which means players will have more opportunities to build up their hand sizes than they do in the current format.
Team Magma’s Secret Base
Team Magma’s Secret Base is a Stadium card that says that whenever a player plays a Basic Pokemon (except for Team Magma Pokemon) from their hand onto their bench, that player puts two damage counters on that Pokemon.
This is an extra way to put damage counters onto your opponent’s Pokemon to soften them up some with some damage without even attacking. I am very skeptical of this card as it’s very easy to play around, as when your opponent fills up their bench before this card comes into play, then this card just becomes a dead card. Additionally, there is such a high density of Supporters being played in the current format that opponents often have counter Stadiums in hand to instantly bounce any Stadium cards their opponents play.
Double Magma Energy
Double Magma Energy is a Special Energy card that can only be attached onto Team Magma Pokemon. The card is also discarded at the end of the turn you attached it. The card provides [F][F] when attached to a Magma Pokemon.
This is a necessity in Magma decks, as all of the Pokemon have relatively high attack costs, but by being able to cheat a turn of attachment, then fully built Magma decks can get most attackers powered up in just one turn.
All of the non-Fighting Magma Pokemon have attack costs of one of their Energy type, and then [C][C], so the Magma Energy can easilly fulfill the [C][C] part of the attack cost.
Team Magma Pokemon
Camerupt is a Stage 1, Fire type Pokemon with 110 HP, three retreat, and a Water weakness. It has an Ability, Burning Draft, that says once during your turn you may attach a [F] or [R] Energy card from your discard pile to this Pokemon.
Its attack Flame Ball does 60 damage for [R][C][C]. So if you use Burning Draft for a Fire Energy and then attach a Magma Energy or Double Colorless Energy you can use Flame Ball. With a Silver Bangle attached, this is good to OHKO all non-mega Grass and Metal EX Pokemon (except for Aegislash EX if you have Special Energy attached), giving a good type counter to these decks.
This is a very interesting card with a lot of combinations. The card comes with a lot of complexity of how to play it, as it is good Energy acceleration, but it only accelerates to itself and it is generally a subpar attacker.
The first obvious combo is with Claydol from this set, which can let you move the Energy cards to other Team Magma Pokemon.
A really strong combination for this card is with Energy Switch in Fighting or Fire based decks. A few decks have tried to make use of the Ether Engine in the past to little success, but using Burning Draft and Energy Switch would make for a similar engine, just one that isn’t based on luck.
One combination I could see is a deck that uses Mew EX and Dimensional Valley, along with Landorus EX and Camerupt. You could attach to Mew EX and then use Burning Draft and Energy Switch to power up a Lands Judgment in one turn.
It might also become the means for powering up Primal Groudon EX quicker than the current decks for the card are able to.
Camerupt also combos well with Camerupt EX as Camerupt EX’s Explosive Jet attack can discard from any of your Pokemon. You can build a dedicated Camerupt EX and Camerupt deck with these cards using Blacksmith to power up the Camerupt EX. You could attach a Double Colorless Energy to Camerupt EX, use Blacksmith for two Fire Energy, and then with two Camerupt on your field, if you Burning Draft two Energy, then you can use Explosive Jet for 200 damage.
If built correctly, it’s easy to see this deck powering up Explosive Jet for 200 on the second turn of the game which would be very powerful.
Claydol is a Stage 1 Psychic Pokemon with 90 HP, a two retreat cost, and a Psychic weakness. It has the Ability Magma Switch, that says once during your turn you may move a Basic Energy from 1 of your Pokemon to one of your Team Magma Pokemon. Its attack, Power Beam, costs [P][C][C] and does 70 damage.
As alluded to earlier, this card combos very well with Camerupt, as you use Camerupt to accelerate the Energy and then use Claydol to move the Energy to a more productive attacker.
A more subtle way to use Claydol would be in decks that utilize non-Magma Pokemon. Take for example Landorus EX, which you may want to play for some early game spread damage. With Claydol in play, you could spread with Landorus EX, move the Energy to a Team Magma Pokemon during your next turn to start powering that up, then Max Potion Landorus EX, and then attach another Energy and attack again, and continue doing this as you get setup with Magma Pokemon.
Aggron is a Stage 2, Fighting type Pokemon, with 140 HP, a four retreat cost, and a Grass weakness. It has two attacks. The first, Rock Stomp, costs [F][C] and does 40 damage times the number of [F] you discard from any of your Pokemon. Its second attack, Boulder Storm, costs [F][F][F][C] and does 120 damage, plus 20 more damage to any of your opponent’s benched Pokemon with any damage counters on them.
I think the primary way you would use Aggron is for its first attack, which can make for a very powerful attack with just a single attachment of a Double Magma Energy. With two Camerupt in play, if you use Burning Draft twice, and then attach a Double Magma Energy to Aggron, if you discard all four of those Energy you do 160 damage, which can become 180 damage with a Muscle Band, good to OHKO most non-mega EX Pokemon.
Zangoose is a Basic Colorless Pokemon with 90 HP, a one retreat cost, and a Fighting weakness. Its first attack, Call for Family, costs [C] and lets you search your deck for two Basic Team magma Pokemon and put them onto your bench. Its second attack, Team Play, costs [C][C][C] and does 20 damage times the number of benched Team Magma Pokemon you have in play.
Zangoose will be the ideal starter in an exclusively Team Magma based deck. Between Team Magma’s Great Ball and Call for Family, it should be very easy to fill up your bench on the first turn of the game.
I do think Zangoose has a lot of potential not only as a Basic attacker in Team Magma decks, but also as the primary attacker in its own deck.
As Zangoose is Colorless, it can be accelerated with both Double Magma Energy and Double Colorless Energy. With just one Claydol and one Camerupt, as long as you don’t miss a DME or DCE attachment, you would be able to stream Zangoose’s every turn of the game.
As is, Zangoose can get up to 100 damage with Team Play, which is solid. This can become 130 damage with Silver Bangle and then 160 damage if you add Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym into the deck. That’s pretty good damage for a basic you can setup in one turn.
Where Zangoose starts to get very interesting is with the Sky Field Stadium card that will get released in Roaring Skies, which allows you to have 8 benched Pokemon. With a full bench, Zangoose can hit for 160 damage. This becomes 190 damage with a Silver Bangle, which is good to OHKO any non-Mega EX in the game, which is amazing damage output for a non-EX Basic attacker.
Stage 1 Weakness Approach
I won’t cover Mightyena as itself, as it is a very underwhelming card and will probably end up not being a viable card in Magma decks as it is outclassed by every other Magma Pokemon. However, what I want to point out is that Team Magma could be built with decent type coverage with its Stage 1 Pokemon.
All of the Stage 1 Pokemon can be powered up to attack in one turn with a Magma Switched Energy off of a Camerupt along with a Double Magma Energy attachment. With Silver Bangle, they all OHKO the non-mega EX Pokemon that are weak to them.
Between Camerupt, Claydol, Mightyena, and Lairon you cover Fire (Grass/Metal), Psychic (Psychic/Fighting), Dark (Psychic Ghosts), and Fighting (Dark/Lightning) as Pokemon you can hit for weakness. While it’s unlikely that this will cover enough of the weaknesses of Pokemon that see play it is worth noting as a potential strategy just in case the format moves in a way where the most played decks end up being weak to one of those types.
Team Magma’s Groudon EX is a Fighting type Basic Pokemon with 190 HP, a four retreat cost, and a Grass weakness. It has an Ability, Power Saver, which says if there are 4 or fewer Team Magma Pokemon in play this Pokemon can’t attack. Its attack, Magma Quake, costs [F][F][F][C] and does 80 damage plus 80 more damage if the Defending Pokemon has any damage on it.
The Power Saver Ability is a bit annoying, as you will always need a full bench if you want to attack with Groudon EX, which could be problematic in the late game as it would mean there could be potential game losing Lysandre targets on your bench. In an exclusively Team Magma deck, it shouldn’t be difficult to fill your bench with enough Pokemon for Groudon EX to attack.
The biggest thing that will take some time to figure out is how to get the damage counter on the Defending Pokemon to let Groudon EX swing for big damage.
The built in combo in the set is Team Magma’s Secret Base and Magma Pointer. However, as pointed out, both of these cards are a bit lackluster, so I don’t think they will be overly successful in setting up the damage for Groudon EX while also leaving you with a good board position. I think something like Frozen City, even though it would be slightly detrimental to your own field, would be a more effective means for getting damage onto your opponent’s Pokemon.
Using a separate Pokemon with a spread attack may become the preferred way to set up damage. As the deck is highly reliant on Fighting Energy already, you can easily slip in fighting type Pokemon, and incidentally, Fighting Pokemon have multiple one Energy spread attackers. Players could use Stunfisk LTR or Landorus EX to setup damage on your opponent’s Pokemon setting them up for the big hit from Groudon EX.
Another option could be Forretress FLF whose Thorn Tempest Ability does 10 damage to all of your opponent’s Pokemon when you evolve into Foreretress from your hand. This would occupy the one non-Magma bench slot you are allotted.
One idea that has seen a lot of mention online is playing the card with Silent Lab to get rid of Power Saver and then playing it with Crobat PHF. This seems lackluster, as you would be taking at least three turns to power up a Groudon EX, and if you’re already devoting that many turns of attachment to get it setup, I don’t see why you wouldn’t just take one more turn and power up a Primal Groudon EX, which is a more powerful attacker than this card and which also has the Barrier Ancient Trait.
Also, the card’s full title is Team Magma’s Groudon EX, so you cannot use this one as a pre-evolution for Primal Groudon EX.
The Team Magma cards in Double Crisis are very exciting and I expect them to be able to crack their way into the meta as there are a few different decks using them that seem like they have potential. Additionally, I expect Camerupt to find its way into non-Magma decks.
That is all for the first half of the set review for Double Crisis. Check back soon for part 2, which will cover the Team Aqua cards in the set.