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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Top 10 Plasma Storm
#2 -
Lugia EX 

- Plasma Storm

Date Reviewed:
February 14, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 4.13
Limited: 2.50

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

#2 Lugia-EX 

The penultimate card in our top 10 countdown is undoubtedly the chase card of the set, beloved by card retailers everywhere who are putting it on pre-order and being overwhelmed by players screaming ‘shut up and take my money!’. Why is it a chase card? Firstly because it’s Lugia, the Generation II equivalent of Charizard (check out the prices for long-rotated Lugia-ex and Lugia NG). Secondly, because it’s actually a very good card. 

Lugia is an EX Pokémon of the Colourless Type with the standard 180 HP. It’s Weak to Lightning, which is good news right now, but don’t think that players won’t start putting Zekrom back into Eel decks if this thing ever becomes a problem. The Resistance to Fighting is worthwhile, and the retreat cost of two slightly inconvenient: less and it would be easily payable, more and you could search out Lugia with Heavy Ball. I recommend Switch. 

Lugia’s attack is, on the face of it, only somewhat decent. The cost is high (four Energy), but the fact that it is Colourless means that you are free to abuse Double Colourless and Colress Machine/Plasma Energy. In fact you are going to need that Plasma Energy as the attack only works if you can discard one. Your reward for this investment? An ok-ish 120 damage. A nice amount to be sure, but still way short of a OHKO on a clean EX Pokémon. So far, so meh. The reason people have been hyping this card lies in the Overflow Ability. This states that when a Pokémon is Knocked Out by damage from Lugia’s attack, you take an extra Prize card. In other words, if Lugia KOs an EX it takes three Prizes – do that twice to win the game. 

So, all you need to do is to find a way to set Lugia up for those two game-winning attacks. At the moment your option is to attack with something else first, and the most likely candidate seems to be Landorus-EX. If you can get off a couple of Hammerheads, you can put two EX Pokémon within range of Lugia KOs. Aside from this kind of dedicated deck, however, Lugia can also be included in decks as a ‘finisher’ – taking those last 3 Prizes off a damaged EX, usually with the help of Scramble Switch. 

To be honest, Lugia is another card which is probably going to have to wait a set before it becomes really powerful. Once we get other Plasma Pokémon that can make running the Energy worthwhile, together with Deoxys-EX to boost its attack power, Lugia is going to see a lot of play and will be ending games extremely quickly. For now, I think players will struggle to exploit it to the full and engineer situations where it can be used for maximum effect. Nevertheless, this is definitely a card to be aware of for the upcoming tournament series. If you ever see this hitting the table when your opponent is down to three Prizes, you better start looking for your pen, as you will be signing a match slip very, very soon. 

Rating 

Modified: 4.25 (it’s not going to get any cheaper, that’s for sure)

Limited: 3 (difficult to use because of the Plasma Energy requirement. Great if you can pull it off though) 

Mad Mattezhion
 Professor Bathurst League Australia

Promising Pick #2: Lugia EX (Plasma Storm)

This is one of the most anticipated cards in the set, and it's easy to see why. Easily splashable? Check. Monstrous stats? Check! Ability that makes rogues and veterans drool uncontrollaby? Definitely Check!

Lugia EX has plenty to intrigue deckbuilders, but it also has plenty of attributes that interest pure collectors. Lugia is Colourless to match its Flying half rather than the Psychic typing of most past cards, and as such has the valuable Fighting Resistamce for keeping the still-viable Terrakion NV and the brutal Landorus EX in their place. The Lightning Weakness is still pretty painful, as Eelektrik builds can still abuse Zekrom BW and Raikou if the metagame shifts far enough to make it worthwhile. Fortunately there is Plasma Frigate to remove the Weakness if needed, but you don't want to book extra space in your deck if you don't have to.

The standard 180 HP remains formidable and the cost of retreating is a mere two energy, which due to Lugia being Colourless (and easily splashed) can be negated altogether (Keldeo's Rush In or Darkrai's Dark Cloak) or at least paid with a single attachment (Double Colourless Energy and Skyarrow Bridge).

But enough about Lugia being easy to use, why would you want to use him in the first place?

The answer is Overflow, which grants you an extra Prize whenever Lugia scores a damage-based KO on an opponent's Poke'mon. Aside from instantly removing problematic Poke'mon, taking extra Prizes is the most powerful ability in the game and players have been known to jump through an awful lot of hoops to use it.

Speaking of hoops, the drawback here is Plasma Gale, the lonely attack. For the reasonable cost of [c][c][c][c] and the far more fiddly cost of discarding a Plasma Energy attached to Lugia, Plasma Gale deals 120 damage. While this is quite underwhelming for a major attack costing 4 energy and will not win any duels with opposing Poke'mon EX, the Overflow Ability and the existence of Poke'mon Catcher make it worthwhile. Simply drag up a Poke'mon with 120 HP or less remaining and voila, you've just drawn 2 Prizes (3 for damaged Poke'mon EX)!

Of course, there is a fair amount of work between this point and that. First of all you need to draw and play your Plasma Energy, so Colress Machine is a must, as is Recycle to retrieve lost energy from the discard pile. Sure, you can finish the game in three attacks but between discarding to your own Professor Juniper, being hit by opposing Crushing/Advanced Hammers and the chance of not drawing extra Plasma Energy from the deck fast enough, you'll need the retrieval to avoid stalling out.

Next on the list is energy acceleration. Fortunately Lugia can abuse every viable form we currently have, whether you play Blastoise BCR (or it's forgotten cousin FanBoar BW), chain multiple Colress Machine and Ether, use the Dark Trans Hydreigon or stick to the trusty Double Colourless Energy. The only two methods that Lugia can't use are playing Dark Patch directly due to not being Dark (but that's only an issue if you splice Lugia into a Dark Trans build with too few Basic Dark Poke'mon) and not being eligible for Gardevoir ND's Ability, which makes Lugia a poor choice for a base Psychic deck.

Third, you'll need a slightly-faster-to-set-up Poke'mon to stack damage on your opponent's beasties to guarantee a Plasma Gale KO. The Blastoise/Keldeo deck can probably find room for a Kyurem NV or two to spread the pain before tearing apart your victim of choice, while Darkrai already does a lovely job of sniping for fun and profit. RayEels can add a couple of Minun ND for the single-energy spread attack to soften up resistance, and anyone who splashes Fighting can use both Landorus EX and Groudon EX to bring the pain early on, leaving a ripe field for Lugia (or they can keep tearing through your opponent's Poke'mon themselves, whatever floats your boat)

Finally, you will need some counters for the more popular life preserving cards. Aspertia City Gym, Max Potion, the revered Eviolite and even the odd Gold Potion can all ruin your math. And if you only aim for 1HKOs, players will hold their squishy Bench sitters in hand until they drag up and destroy the hapless Lugia you've just invested so many resources in, then recommence setting up the doom engine of Eels. So Tool Scrapper, a Stadium of your own and N, the magic hand scrambler are all going to be important parts of your deck. The Tool Scrapper especially will be necessary, because without Overflow Lugia isn't worth running and Garbodor DEX shuts that down beautifully.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Lugia EX is now the final word in powerful finishers, and it fits well into a number of current archetypes with a bit of squeezing to fit the Plasma Energy, as well as being ripe for abuse in it's own archetype (check out Youtube to see examples). Even if you don't like Lugia yourself, you'll be glad to open this in-demand trade bait, and the value will likely increase if Plasma Poke'mon can support their own archetype (think of a less terrifying but longer-lasting version of Poke'mon SP).

Modified: 4 (the power to quickly end games without having to majorly adjust your core strategy is balanced by the necessity of running extra combo pieces, forcing out other tricks and/or dropping the consistency of your deck. If you already use DCE and Tool Scrapper while having room for more Special Energy, you should give Lugia a whirl)

Limited: 2 (unplayable without Plasma Energy, Lugia can be used as a one-shot wonder to end games if you have both Colress Machine and at least 1 Plasma energy, but it doesn't hold a torch to other Poke'mon EX in Limited)

Combos with: Poke'mon Catcher, Double Colourless Energy, Tool Scrapper

Otaku

For those who celebrate, happy Valentine’s Day dear readers!  This holiday carries different meanings for different people, and its actual history is quite fascinating.  For those out there that are still single, take heart; you’re not alone; it should come as no surprise that I am a single otaku.  Fortunately, especially if you study up on the holiday, it can be about more than romantic love. 

Oh right, time for the second place pick of our Top 10 Promising Picks of Plasma Storm!   The runner up is Lugia EX (BW: Plasma Storm 108/135, 134/135)!  That probably makes tomorrow’s pick obvious. 

Stats 

Miscellaneous: First and foremost, we are dealing with a Pokémon-EX.  Obvious as it states it in its name and in the reminder text warning you that Pokémon-EX are worth an extra Prize when KOed, and yet it never fails that someone (even long time players) will tap their inner Timmy and ignore this drawback while seeing their favorite Legendary Pokémon living large. 

Besides giving up an extra Prize, Pokémon-EX are specifically referenced by a few card effects.  Those worth noting are: 

  • Sigilyph BW: Dragons Exalted 52/124), whose Safeguard Ability makes it immune to attacks by Pokémon-EX.
  • Bouffalant (BW: Dragons Exalted 110/124) whose Gold Breaker attack goes from doing 60 for (CCC) to 120 when used against a Pokémon-EX.
  • Klinklang (BW: Plasma Storm 90/135), whose Plasma Steel Ability prevents the attacks of Pokémon-EX from damaging Metal-Type Pokémon.

All three, even the recent Klinklang [Plasma], already have decks they either anchor or at least are well known in, and the two Basic Pokémon (especially Bouffalant) can be worked into several other decks. 

Lugia EX is a Team Plasma card like the aforementioned Klinklang, allowing it to tap the various Team Plasma support.  You can read an article here that simply lists out and slightly organizes that support.  As there is no other Lugia EX, I will skip referring to it as Lugia EX [Plasma].  Being a Team Plasma card is an advantage right now, but not a huge one. 

Type: As a Colorless-Type, Lugia EX enjoys not having to deal with Weakness or Resistance (unless you’re going old-school in Unlimited).  This Type also has a single card of support; not a lot (especially if pick the right block of cards), but Type isn’t as well supported in the Black& White era.  Plus that single card of support is the Stadium Aspertia City Gym, granting an extra 20 HP while in play.  Thankfully discarding Stadiums currently requires an attack or another Stadium, with the latter usually being the most efficient.  Stadiums have become important in the game, so synergy with one of them is always welcome.

Stage: As a Basic Pokémon Lugia EX enjoys a format where its fellows are quite dominant.  All Pokémon-EX are Basic Pokémon, and even before they debuted big, Basic Pokémon were the main attackers of most competitive decks.  They enjoy being naturally more efficient to run and faster to play than Evolutions, and if that wasn’t enough they even have a handful of cards that specifically favor them (Eviolite, Prism Energy, Revive, and Skyarrow Bridge) in addition to naturally working better with some cards (like search, seeing as how you don’t have to deal with any “extra pieces” as you would with an Evolution).

Hit Points: 180 HP is the maximum any Pokémon-EX has been printed with, though to be fair it also is so common it seems to be the default; smaller scores might be indicative of trying to “balance” more potent effects, but given that several small cards just haven’t proven that good maybe it is something else.  Still, it is a great number and only 20 behind the true maximum printed HP score in the game.  Even with recent tricks BW: Plasma Storm brought us, 180 is a difficult number to hit in a single turn, so Lugia EX should almost always survive a single attack.

Weakness: Lightning-Type Weakness, as Lugia EX possesses, is a dangerous but not as bad as what I would consider the most risky Types to be Weak to; the reason for this is the best Lightning-Type decks, those backed by Eelektrik (BW: Noble Victories 40/101), often rely on off-Type attackers.  Still, some do still focus on actual Lightning-Types and even those that don’t can always run a clutch Zekrom (Black& White 47/114, 114/114; BW Promo BW005, BW24; BW: Next Destinies 50/99); it and many other Lightning-Type attackers still hit hard enough to OHKO Lugia EX.

Resistance: Lugia EX enjoys Fighting Resistance.  Combined with its massive HP score, it becomes pretty painful for Fighting-Types to deal with.  Still, Fighting-Type Pokémon are often great at dealing damage, so against a more or less straight Fighting deck, it is mostly useful for nerfing their smaller attacks; big attacks will often punch through for no more than a 3HKO, even when factoring in potential Aspertia City Gym and Eviolite use.

 What really makes this nice is Fighting Weakness being so common; this leads to Fighting-Type Pokémon being used in off-type decks, where it is harder for them to tap their bigger moves. 

Retreat: Lugia EX has the currently awkward Retreat score of (CC).  While it is something you will often have the Energy to pay and can do so without crippling your in game set-up, it doesn’t mesh well with several combos.  Skyarrow Bridge, for example, will drop it down to a nice single Energy Retreat cost, but for Pokémon that naturally retreat for one Energy it zeroes things out.

If we look at other Retreat score lowering tricks or actual alternatives to manually retreating, they work just as well no matter how high the base Retreat cost is.  Besides a higher Retreat possibly justifying something better elsewhere on the card as compensation, had it been three or more Heavy Ball could have searched it out.  This isn’t a big deal, but at the same time I would be remiss leaving it out. 

Effects 

Ability: The Ability of Lugia EX, Overflow, requires you take an extra Prize when you KO an opponent’s Pokémon through damage of an attack by it (Lugia EX).  It isn’t likely you wouldn’t want that extra Prize, but the text does make it mandatory should such a bizarre scenario occur.  Its wording also means a Pokémon-EX KOed in the appropriate manner would yield a total of three Prizes.

This has been seen before on Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND (HS: Undaunted 89/90, 90/90).  For those trying to do a quick image search should know that the “LEGEND” mechanic is officially part of the card’s name and that it resulted in two cards that were played together as one, Unevolved Pokémon; the second piece (90/90) shows its Poké-Body (a precursor to Abilities), Space Virus.  The text of Space Virus is almost identical to Overflow, with the intended effect being the same save for referencing Rayquaza& Deoxys LEGEND instead of Lugia EX

That Poké-Body proved useful despite that card being quite hard to play, so Overflow looks to also be good; exactly how good will depend upon the attack and what combos we can enhance it with. 

Attack: For (CCCC), Lugia EX can attack with Plasma Gale, which was the name of the Japanese set counterpart of BW: Plasma Storm.  The damage output is 120, which is good for four of any Energy… except if you read the attack’s effect text, you see if is not actually four of any Energy: you must discard a Plasma Energy card from Lugia EX in order to use its attack, or the attack does nothing!

This isn’t crippling; decks can run four Plasma Energy cards and there is the Item, Colress Machine that we already reviewed which allows you to search for deck for a Plasma Energy and attach it to one of your Team Plasma Pokémon.  Currently our only general deck option for reclaiming Plasma Energy cards from the discard pile is Recycle, a “tails fails” Item that top decks a card of your choice from the discard pile when it succeeds. 

Unless you go truly elaborate and use a Pokémon with an attack to do the job, even with Recycle (a card that almost always is “not quite” good enough to run) you would at most get eight shots off from Plasma Gale.  Sounds like a lot, but the damage is not quite enough to OHKO the biggest, ordinary Basic Pokémon without help, and rarely capable of doing so to a Pokémon-EX.  Smaller supporting Basic Pokémon are easy pretty (and fairly common), but the few Evolved Pokémon will also be 10 to 30 points out of range. 

The attack is compatible with almost every form of Energy acceleration in the game right now, including the oh-so-simple Double Colorless Energy.  It is possible to build a deck that can attack with Plasma Gale first turn, but that requires a lot of investment. 

Synergy: Overflow is what makes Plasma Gale worth the hassle, but the design seems to avoid making this as powerful as it appears at a glance.  Plasma Gale can only easily be used four times, and will rarely take down Pokémon-EX.  While it is useful getting two Prizes per smaller, supporting Pokémon that is still three attacks required, leaving room for only one to spare.  In a game where six cards from your deck are randomly set aside as Prizes, only available as a blind pick (before combos) from KOing one of your opponent’s cards, a single attack buffer isn’t much. 

You also have to consider that with similar effort, simpler strategies will likely win just as fast since they can take down Pokémon-EX with a single attack.  Plasma Gale is good for a 2HKO most of the time, but you are risking an opponent healing up between turns and you have no room for error with only four copies of Plasma Energy in the deck!  Again, with all that effort, you probably could run something that simply OHKOs opposing Pokémon-EX and win in one less turn. 

It is probably better that the attack does force you to discard a Plasma Energy rather than just have one attached; with how intentional the design is I doubt the attack would hit as hard and Special Energy is easier to discard this format; your odds of keeping it become so low you might as well enjoy the better damage output. 

Lastly, remember that Overflow, while potent, is hardly “broken”.  If it worked with any Pokémon, from the Bench, it would be broken.  If it didn’t specific damage from an attack by Lugia EX itself, again it would be broken (Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym would increase its range immensely).  Despite how hard I’ve been on the attack, overall the Ability and attack work exactly as good as the game can afford to allow, or perhaps a little too good since I really don’t like cards that can hit for 120 points of damage first turn. 

Usage 

Card Family: Again, this is a Team Plasma card, and thus all other Team Plasma cards are at least loosely affiliated.  Plasma Energy is obviously the most closely related as Lugia EX specifies you have to discard one for its attack to do any damage.  Plasma Energy is merely a catalyst card, a means of paying a cost as it provides only (C) for Energy output.  Colress Machine isn’t anymore directly related to Lugia EX than anything else, but it directly affects Plasma Energy as mentioned above, so expect it if you see Lugia EX

Similarly, Plasma Frigate would allow you to negate the Weakness on Lugia EX (or any other Pokémon with a Plasma Energy attached) but that also means having a second, since you should be discarding a single one each time you attack.  As such, not the best Stadium to use and the protection it offers was already somewhat fragile as a counter Stadium or Energy discarding effect would void it. 

Technically any Team Plasma Pokémon can be paired up with Lugia EX and enjoy synergy of their shared resources, and it is most pronounced with the Colorless-Type Team Plasma Pokémon we have: Bouffalant (BW: Plasma Storm 114/135), Watchog (BW: Plasma Storm 112/135), and Watchog (BW: Plasma Storm 113/135).  Yes, there are two versions of Watchog [Plasma], with different attacks, unfortunately neither they nor the Bouffalant are any good. 

There are a few pieces of support that also can make use of Team Plasma Pokémon in general, but so far they too are really not worth using.  Despite having a technically large family, Lugia EX isn’t close to that many of them. 

Modified: Lugia EX has been hotly anticipated, and because it is compatible with almost every form of Energy acceleration, it can be fit into most decks, but not very well.  Colress Machine is an obvious combo, but at the same time making room for it and Plasma Energy is a challenge even if a deck is cutting a different attacker for Lugia EX.  So just because you can use it in so many difference decks, you really shouldn’t. 

Lugia EX is a natural in a Colorless-Type deck built to maximize it.  Colress Machine and Plasma Energy are quite likely, though if they are used the only other generic Energy acceleration (Ether, usually backed by Pokédex) will not fit unless you cut out more vital cards.  Still this allows you to back Lugia EX with strong cards that all get +20 HP from Aspertia City gym and can make good use of any Energy acceleration other than Colress Machine

Pokémon like Tornadus EX (BW: Dark Explorers 90/108, 108/108), one of the best Pokémon-EX in the game, though that can be easy to forget since by now we’ve got about half a dozen cards Pokémon-EX that fit that description.  The aforementioned Bouffalant (the one that hurts Pokémon-EX more, not the Team Plasma affiliate) would also be a solid choice. 

Lugia EX can also work with Blastoise (BW: Boundaries Crossed 31/149), Eelektrik, Ether/Pokédex, decks that move Energy around, and even a deck that utilizes Dark Patch plus Energy Switch and/or Scramble Switch.  In these decks, Colress Machine probably won’t fit without seriously affecting the deck’s performance in other areas.  In fact, adding in Double Colorless Energy would also likely be too much; any Energy acceleration such decks already use will have to suffice. 

All four of these also really need something that can spread damage around, preferably early game.  While an opponent might be able to heal it all away, it usually isn’t easy, and this is what finally allows Lugia EX to be more effective; 60 points of damage isn’t easy, but it would put all unprotected Pokémon-EX within KO range by a single Plasma Gale. 

These ideas aren’t all equal; using Dark Patch combos is crazy hard, so even with the set-up of spreading damage, you still would only want it as a finisher and probably not at all.  I mention it on the hope I missed something that would make it less clunky and more effective.  The Ether/Pokédex option isn’t much better, though Landorus EX (BW: Boundaries Crossed 89/149, 144/149) is excellent at spreading damage and tends to be one the “postermon” for such decks. 

Klinklang (Black & White 76/114) and Hydreigon (BW: Dragons Exalted 97/124) each anchor decks, providing reliable Energy redistribution, but such decks are so crowded that adding Plasma Energy plus Lugia EX would be too much for their stability.  Blastoise can easily make room for Lugia EX and even a few copies of Plasma Energy.  Some builds might even still have room for Kyurem (BW: Noble Victories 34/101) for solid spread across all of your opponent’s Pokémon.  The problem is you have to choose between Lugia EX and Black Kyurem EX, and the latter is just easier to use; two turns of it OHKOing Pokémon EX for four Prizes versus two turns of attacking for Lugia EX to KO something for three Prizes. 

Eelektrik decks similarly can use the raw power approach to ultimately take more Prizes in the same amount of turns; Rayquaza EX (BW: Dragons Exalted 85/124, 123/124) is also a OHKO machine with the proper set-up.  Plus with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym, all the above decks that have room for said combo are better at scoring pseudo-OHKOs, where the Poison damage finishes off the Defending Pokémon between turns. 

Unlimited: Here Lugia EX can be fun, but probably not very effective: decks that win or lock the opponent down first turn are still dominant.  The added support would make setting up and maintaining a Lugia EX easier and the smaller HP scores of older cards (some worth two Prizes before Overflow): old school Pokémon-ex or something sporting an Expert Belt.  Assuming Expert Belt adding a Prize stacks with Overflow, things could get crazy fun. 

Probably no where near competitive, though. 

Limited: Here Lugia EX is potentially worthless.  You must pull a Plasma Energy card or this isn’t even worth using a meat-shield.  If you do pull at least one Plasma Energy, then consider running it; most Pokémon here will fall into OHKO range and while it might only be good for one shot, two Prizes is even more impressive in a format that only starts with four. 

This also hurts it, though, as despite taking several turns (most likely) for your opponent to KO Lugia EX, it too is worth half your beginning Prizes when all is said and done, isn’t easy to get out of the Active position, and will be very card to set-up in time to make a difference unless you draw several pieces of support.  This is definitely not a Pokémon-EX to try and run with just 39 Energy cards, which while bad for its score is actually good for Limited as a format. 

Spoiler: I really believe this card ranked so high on reviewer lists because players were thinking ahead.  Future Team Plasma Support will include a means of boosting the damage from the attacks of Team Plasma Pokémon as well more than one way of reliably retrieving Team Plasma cards from the discard pile.  These two things alone can result in games where five or six attacks easily score two KOs for six Prizes, or three KOs for two Prizes.  The gimmick becomes a reliable strategy, and the nature of the rest of the deck provides adequate fall back attackers. 

Ratings 

Unlimited: 1.75/5 

Modified: 3.25/5 

Limited: 3/5  

Summary

Lugia EX is currently more of a novelty Pokémon, though one that can push for a surprise win or lead.  The effort required for most decks is too much, and the results from a deck dedicated to it seem insufficient for the effort expended.  This should change in the future, but we are reviewing this card now, not then. 

Lugia EX did make my Top 10 list, but in the number 10 slot.  Even its place there wasn’t a bit tenuous.  Yesterday the rest of the group helped me realize I had ranked Scramble Switch too low on my original list (I had it at number five), but with Lugia EX I am still puzzled.  After reviewing Lugia EX, I am thinking I ranked it too high. 


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