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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Cards of 2013

#1 - Hypnotoxic Laser

- Plasma Storm

Date Reviewed:
January 3, 2014

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 4.75
Limited: 5.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Combos With: See Below

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

#1 Hypnotoxic Laser 

You know how it is when the spoilers for a new set start to appear . . . even with the obviously good cards, you still get a few dissenting voices saying that they won’t have as much impact as everyone seems to think. Well, when players first learned of the existence of our #1 card of 2013, I don’t think there was anyone who doubted for a second that it was ridiculously good. 

For a start, Hypnotoxic Laser adds to the damage that you can do during your turn. Any card that can do that (if it is easy enough to use) will typically be worth playing (think PlusPower, Expert Belt, or Crobat G). But Hypnotoxic Laser doesn’t content itself with only adding one point of damage: combine it with the Virbank City Gym Stadium and it will be doing 30! What’s more, because Laser adds damage by inflicting the Poison Status Condition, the effect is cumulative, so the opponent is forced to retreat their active Pokémon during their turn (often burning resources to do so) because if they don’t, that extra 30 damage will quickly become 60 or more! 

Do the benefits of the card stop there? Nope: you also get a flip for Sleep and if that sticks you cause even more disruption by making it even harder for your opponent to retreat to another Pokémon and attack. In fact the damage/disruption potential of Laser is so great that it enabled the creation of a semi-successful deck (with Snorlax PLS) that didn’t attack at all. It just relied on locking the opponent’s active in place and poisoning them to death. 

Strategies involving Keldeo EX and Float Stone can be used to mitigate the effects of Laser somewhat, and the rise of Genesect/Virizion has meant that we have at least one archetype which is largely immune to the effects of the card. Fitting the 5-6 card suite of ‘Laserbank’ into a deck is never easy either, and I’ve yet to see a Stage 2 deck that can pull it off and stay consistent. Nevertheless, Hypnotoxic Laser remains an extremely potent threat, enabling those ‘magic numbers’ which are needed for one and two-hit KOs and leaving a trail of disruption in its wake. Indisputably the defining card of the past year’s format, it fully deserves its place at the top of our countdown. 

Rating 

Modified: 4.75 (the face of the Pokémon TCG 2013) 

So, that wraps it up for our top 10 of 2013. Not too many surprises I guess, though I am wondering what poor old Deoxys EX did wrong . . .


Otaku

At last we come to the top card of 2013, Hypnotoxic Laser, a card that took the top spot in our Top 10 picks for BW: Plasma Storm as well; read the original review here.  An Item that inflicts Poison (guaranteed) and Sleep (requires “heads” on a coin toss), Hypnotoxic Laser is one of those cards that lived up to most, if not all, of the hype.  It might even be ironic that this card has proven so potent, because at a glance it almost looks like a nerfed PlusPower.

 

That statement is a bit confusing (even if you don’t struggle with the actual definitions for irony), so let me explain; PlusPower has been considered “broken” if not by a significant amount of the player base at different times, then at least myself until a few years ago.  This was because you could play down multiples and (unless it was during a period where Items weren’t allowed first turn) thus it could become quite abusive first turn of the game if you could get multiples and score a FTKO or even a donk.  Later I came to the conclusion the problem is just that no attacks that hit for actual damage should be designed with Energy costs that can be met first turn by the card pool; that builds in a turn for set-up/disruption attacks “naturally” into the rules, plus allows damage boosting cards without the concern of FTKOs.

 

So how could Hypnotoxic Laser be safer than PlusPower?  Poison damage means no bonus for hitting Weakness, and multiple copies don’t stack (though they can be used to improve the odds of hitting Sleep).  As a further precaution against accelerating the game too much, it inflicts Sleep; Sleep is one of two Special Conditions that go away on their own without any outside help (the other is Paralysis) and even has a 50% chance of going away before the next turn of the game begins… but when it does stick around, it can slow things down.  Tacking Sleep on means that not only offensive decks would have reason to play Hypnotoxic Laser, but defensive decks as well.

 

If the above conjecture is true (mostly using it as a framing device) Hypnotoxic Laser worked too well; it only fails to be a must run because of the constraints of deck space.  Even decks that are built around OHKO tactics still wouldn’t mind Hypnotoxic Laser as a back up strategy if more vital cards for that particular deck didn’t crowd it out.  Hypnotoxic Laser accelerated the pace of the game a little more, but it was already so fast that I don’t think we lost any decks from the competitive side of things, at least by now when a few that had faded away returned.  It changed the builds for many such decks, for example “Hammer Time” shifting to “Laser Time” with at least some players finding a way to squeeze both tactics into the same deck.

 

As I said the format was already blisteringly fast, and for the most part only decks built around big, Basic Pokémon had room for a significant amount of Hypnotoxic Laser, especially as the designers chose to release a complimentary card that makes my above claim quite questionable: Virbank City Gym.  Providing a Stadium that increases the damage counters Poison places in between turns by two creates a two card combo that yields plus three damage counters, almost always a better deal than two copies of PlusPower.  It becomes an even better deal should your opponent fail to discard Virbank City Gym, and when your opponent happens to also run Virbank City Gym, it becomes almost ridiculous.  If they had room, every deck would want to include this combo, but fortunately they don’t and by now there is finally some protection against Hypnotoxic Laser worth running in some decks: Virizion EX.

 

There are also a few cards that have what would be nifty Abilities or attack effects but are hampered by Hypnotoxic Laser (and its Poison effect) bypassing something important.  For example, Crustle (BW: Boundaries Crossed 85/149) has an Ability that prevents it from being OHKOed, leaving it with 10 HP instead… but of course Poison from Hypnotoxic Laser goes off and places a final damage counter.  Perhaps more relevant is match-ups where Silver Mirror, Safeguard, or a similar effect is protecting a Pokémon; an opponent with Hypnotoxic Laser can still do something against such effects.  The Hypnobank combo is also the only method we currently have of donking someone, though it admittedly only applies to 30 HP Pokémon.  Annoying for Exeggcute (BW: Plasma Freeze 4/116; BW: Plasma Blast 102/101), at least.

 

As you might have guessed by the tone of the above, I have a love/hate relationship with Hypnotoxic Laser; in the long run it isn’t the healthiest card to have in the format, not due to direct power (if so many attacks weren’t borderline OHKO/2HKO, the Poison damage would often not matter) but all those “little” things that it messes up, including Virbank City Gym helping “Poison” decks instead of just becoming generic source of extra damage.  Not that it affects the score, but also would have expected a “laser” to Burn and maybe Confuse or Paralyze.

 

This is actually a great card for Unlimited… sort of.  Even a donk deck might consider it, because it is an easy spare damage counter.  It also is another means of getting by one of the best Pokémon Tools ever released, Focus Band.  The main reasons not to run this card are lack of space and the expectation of Trainer denial, which are even more pressing problems here than in Modified.  As for Limited play, if you pull this, you run it; you should never be unable to make room in your deck, even if you’re trying something like one big Basic plus 39 Energy… you’re allowed to replace the Energy with useful Trainers so long as odds are against missing an important Energy drop due to lack of Energy; six or less non-Energy cards means you cannot fail to get an Energy as part of your opening hand plus opening draw.

 

Ratings

 

Unlimited: 4/5

 

Modified: 4.75/5

 

Limited: 5/5

 

Summary

It may seem strange that I scored this card higher now than when it first released; we’ve actually got a legitimate counter to it now, and it also no longer can be used for the first turn donk barring that rare 30 HP exception.  I believe I underscored it last time, fixated on the desire not to give “perfect” marks.  This card is easily worth its investment, and only the phenomenal card pool it dwells in prevents it from being a maxed out staple; admittedly it won’t always be the “61st” card when it does miss out, but for the decks that don’t run it, it is probably in the Top 10 cards they wish they had room to fit.

 

This was my first place choice for the Top 10 Cards of 2013 and for BW: Plasma Storm.


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