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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Virbank City Gym  

- Plasma Storm

Date Reviewed:
February 18, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.75
Limited: 3.67

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

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

Virbank City Gym

 

Hello and welcome to our post-top 10 week here on Pojo’s CotD. This is the bit where we take a look at those cards which were selected by individual reviewers, but just didn’t get enough votes to make the final cut.

 

We kick off the week with Virbank City Gym, and it seems appropriate that we are reviewing this card following on from Friday’s review of Hypnotixic Laser (HTL). The two cards go together like . . . well, like two things that go together extremely well.

 

Virbank is a Stadium card with a simple effect: If a Pokémon is Poisoned, you put two additional damage counter on it between each turn. Yep, with this card out Poison is now worth 30 points of damage . . . and that’s a very big deal. An attack that does 30 damage (like Landorus-EX’s Hammerhead) will now KO a 60 HP Basic like Squirtle or Klink. An attack that does 150 damage (like Hydreigon DRX’s Dragonblast) now OHKO’s a clean Pokémon EX. Even if you don’t get the one-shot KO, you are certainly going to disrupt an opponent who will be forced to retreat their Poisoned active unless they want to take another 30 next turn.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the most obvious and common partner for Virbank is HTL: it turns an Item card that inflicts Poison into what is effectively a triple PlusPower. Other cards that Poison are available of course (Garbodor PLS, Amoonguss NEX), but I suspect that Accelgor DEX is the one most likely to see play, and even that will be a rarity. For the most part, it is those decks that can fit Virbank and HTL into their lists (mainly Big Basics, to be honest) that just got a huge boost to their damage output.

 

One other thing worth pointing out is that the game seems to be moving towards a state where Stadium cards are extremely useful in their own right, simply because they can kick other Stadiums from the Field. Set up decks like Blastoise and Klinklang rely heavily on Tropical Beach in the early game, and Virbank can be used to restrict its use. It could also counter any attempts to negate Weakness by playing Plasma Frigate. Whatever, Virbank City Gym is a card that you can expect to see hitting the play area a lot in future.

 

Rating

 

Modified: 4 (turns a slightly annoying Status Condition into a huge damage boost)

Limited: 4 (if you pulled Garbodor or HTL, you’ll love it)


Otaku

Welcome to Runners-Up Week, where we look at five cards that made some of the reviewers’ lists from last week’s Top 10 Promising Picks of Plasma Storm… but not enough to make it into the actual Top 10.  We begin with a card we’ve talked about quite a bit while reviewing several of the last two week’s picks: Virbank City Gym (BW: Plasma Storm 126/135)!

 

Stats

Virbank City Gym is the least played and run of the three major divisions of Trainer, the Stadium.  Stadiums special in that they almost always provide the same effect for both players and that they remain in play in a shared Stadium position between players.  There can only be one Stadium out at a time; if either player plays a new one, the old is discarded.  You also can’t play a Stadium with the same name as one currently in play, and you may only play a single Stadium during your turn.

 

Only a few effects can discard Stadium cards, and I don’t believe any of them are currently Modified legal except for what is built into the Stadium mechanic itself.  Only a few Modified legal cards reference Stadiums in their effects, and all are enhancements to the attack as opposed to something that affects Stadium cards.  The only one of note is the famous Tornadus EX (BW: Dark Explorers 90/108, 108/108), whose Blow Through attack hits for 60 (instead of 30) when a Stadium is in play; a great bargain for (CC).

 

Effects

Virbank City Gym causes any Poison ailment to place two extra damage counters between turns.  It has been ruled that this is in addition to whatever amount of counters the Poison condition would place, so any form of Poison now places at least three, and the very nasty attacks that place two, three, or four now place four, five, and six.  I don’t believe there are any stronger forms of Poison, but if there are, but if there are they also place whatever they say plus two.

 

This is a fantastic effect, well worth running in almost any deck that makes use of Poison damage.  It amounts to a “double PlusPower” for such decks.  The only drawback is in a format where all decks are relying on Poison damage, as you will risk providing your opponent that same benefit.  This gets to be tricky when some decks are able to rely on others to run Virbank City Gym “for them”.

 

Usage

We’ve had some Special Condition boosting Stadiums before like Full Flame (EX: Legend Maker 74/92), and they an adequate amount of play.  Boosting Poison in the manner of Virbank City Gym is more potent since there is no other combo required to guarantee said damage: Full Flame caused Burn to place four damage counters and prevented Evolution or Devolution from removing the Burn Special Condition.  It didn’t guarantee the damage, so besides needing something that inflicted Burn, there was always a 50% chance no extra damage would be done.

 

Thanks to Hypnotoxic Laser, any deck with room for a few Items can reliably inflict Poison, and the two cards together yield the same effective damage bonus as three PlusPower, barring exceptions such as hitting Weakness (damage from PlusPower would be doubled, Poison damage counter placement of course is not) or using the combo with a non-damaging attack (PlusPower cannot add damage to a non-damaging attack, but the combo will still result in damage counter placement).

 

Our format was already full of decks that were nearly OHKOing or 2HKOing most Pokémon; surviving a turn will be even more difficult now.  Decks will need to include countermeasures to this combo; first expect all decks to have several cards to enable changing out of their Active Pokémon.  It might be, Darkrai EX (BW: Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108; BW Promo BW46), Keldeo EX (BW: Boundaries Crossed 49/149, 142/149), increased usage of Switch or Escape Rope, with combinations of the preceding quite likely.

 

As such, what I would have expected to be the most prominent beneficiaries of Virbank City Gym, the Poison-Type Pokémon (usually represented by part of the TCG Psychic-Type) are actually on the fringe; their tactics of relying on Poison for the bulk of their damage is sabotaged by decks that are using Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym as a triple PlusPower.  You simply cannot expect a Poisoned Pokémon to stay Poisoned most of the time.

 

I expect many a deck will be able to spare room for a 2-2 pairing of Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym.  Hypnotoxic Laser proves useful enough on its own (and will be run at more than two if room permits) plus sometimes you will be able to keep Virbank City Gym in play more than one turn for re-using it or use your opponent’s copy.  Stadium wars will happen, but the format does not lend to the larger scale ones from the days of Scott; decks will probably only have room for two, not the three, four, or sometimes more than saw play around the time Scott was popular.

 

I don’t expect this to be as important in Unlimited, but my information on this format is very sketchy and unreliable at the moment (sadly, for some time now).  Rulings for this format are not high priority and are still pending, or have been misunderstood by some.  For that matter, opponents are unreliable and testing it is not high priority for most (including me).  My best guess is that if the first-turn-win/lock decks remain dominant, this card won’t be needed.

 

In Unlimited, there are cards like Windstorm a (retroactively declared) Item that can discard a Pokémon Tool, a Stadium, or both at the same time, as well as several cards that can (or flat out do) block some or all kinds of Trainers; the latter both helps and hurts Virbank City Gym.  The combo with Hypnotoxic Laser might be overkill here though the Poison from Hypnotoxic Laser can bypass what is so far still the best Pokémon Tool ever printed, Focus Band.

 

In Limited, it all depends on having something that can actually use it.  There is one other Stadium in this set, Plasma Frigate, but it requires Plasma Energy to gain its effect… but that effect does negate the Weakness on a Pokémon with a Plasma Energy.  This is tempting to run as a counter-Stadium, but not advised; odds are low that you’ll encounter someone with Plasma Frigate and Plasma Energy in their deck that also have a Weakness to enough of your attackers to matter and will get it all out at the same time.

 

Special Conditions are always at a premium in Limited; expect to Poison in multiple matches even though only a few cards in the set can inflict it.  So don’t use it as a counter-Stadium, but definitely run it if your own deck can inflict Poison… just don’t drop it too soon lest it be turned against you or discarded by Plasma Frigate.

 

Ratings

 

Unlimited: 1.75/5

 

Modified: 3.75/5

 

Limited: 3/5

 

 

Summary

Virbank City Gym will be a must run for several decks, but not all.  Some decks already hit so hard that it is too inefficient at raising damage to be worth the space, and while it is part of a potent combo, Hypnotoxic Laser carries the bulk of their combined power.

 

I ranked Virbank City Gym as the 11th best card of the set; on its own it would have been a very interesting card, but it always needs partners to do anything more than bump another Stadium from play.  Even its rank as my number 11is due to Hypnotoxic Laser, though it wouldn’t only drop two or three places at most without it.

Mad Mattezhion
 Professor Bathurst League Australia

Virbank City Gym (Plasma Storm)

Ahh, Poison. My favourite type in the video games, and home to some of my favourite Poke'mon (Nidoking, Gengar and Crobat) as well as some of my favourite cards (Crobat G, Gengar SF and Scollipede EP, are you sensing a theme here?). So it is only fitting that it is also my favourite Special Condition to inflict upon the unsuspecting.

Poison has the benefit of being both relatively easy to inflict (attacks with guaranteed Poison are generally easy enough to find in any given format) and guaranteed to have a least some tiny effect on the game even if it is cured during the next turn (not even Paralysis can claim that) while it is the most painful Special Condition of the five if left untreated, especially when the delicious KO happens just before your turn so you have an open shot at the next Poke'mon in the Active slot.

So the card Virbank City Gym scratches a particular itch for me, and if you add in the name (Stadiums named after video-game Gyms was a hallmark of Gym Challenge, my second favourite set of all time) you get a card I was very pleased to open at the prerelease.

But what does the card actually do? It causes Poisoned Poke'mon to take an extra 2 damage counters in between turns, for a total of 60HP lost by the time your turn rolls back around. And since Hypnotoxic Laser is set to be a major force in Modified and a favoured toy of the disruptive Player, tournament-viable Poisoning is now a fact of life.

Do you remember how Crobat G was feared for Flash Bite but it was also quite annoying when it attacked with Toxic? How an Energy Gain and a [p] energy would raise Crobat from bench bait to a viable attacker, crippling an opponent's beastie if they couldn't retreat? Losing a Donphan or similarly tanky critter to that nasty Poison will now feel relatively painless when compared the Catcher/HTL/Virbank combo erasing your Poke'mon EX.

And the truly delicious kicker? Crobat PLS already has triple Poison built in to its attack. Combine that with Virbank City Gym and imagine my delighted cackling ringing in your ears.

It isn't all doom and gloom though. Full Heal is guaranteed to fix what ails you, and Switch, Rush In and the highly unfashionable evolve-the-affected-Poke'mon technique are all near infallible methods to remove Poison, Sleep and Paralysis, which between HTL and Articuno EX, you can expect to see all three relatively often, a true shock for Modified. Slightly less reliable but still workable are the Dark Cloak, Sky Arrow Bridge and regular retreating methods, which still deal with Poison but can be stymied by Sleep and Paralysis.

Right, I'm done with the exhaustive commentary. Funny League deck built around Poison or brutal tournament-calibre deck built around inflicting misery? You decide!

Modified: 3.5 (alone, Virbank City Gym is an better-than-average boost to a narrow spectrum of possible attack effects and strategies. But alongside Crobat PLS and Hypnotoxic Laser? It's going to make waves, even if space constraints keep out of some decks)

Limited: 4 (if you have even a single Poke'mon that can posiible inflict Poison, Virbank City Gym is a decent card you would only cut due to having too many energy types to make room. With more than one method or a single Hypnotoxic Laser, it becomes a must-run)

Combos with: Hypnotoxic Laser, Crobat PLS


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