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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

Snorlax  

- Plasma Storm

Date Reviewed:
March 29, 2013

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.25
Limited: 3.50

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

Snorlax (Plasma Storm) 

After a week of reviewing mostly mediocre cards with some interesting effects, we end the week with an actual good card . . . sort of. Although I wouldn’t really recommend Snorlax to anyone right now, it is a card that you could be seeing quite a bit of in the future. 

Snorlax is a Colourless Basic Pokémon with a very nice 130 HP. This seems to be the maximum for non-EX Basics right now and although it doesn’t grant immunity from OHKOs with Hypnotoxic Laser around, it isn’t going down easily either. The Fighting Weakness is a bit of a drawback with Landorus-EX being very popular and Terrakion NVI still seeing some play, and the retreat cost of four is downright horrible. Yes, you will need to be playing Switch. 

Block is Snorlax’s Ability, and what it means is that when Snorlax is Active, your opponent’s Active Pokémon can’t retreat. Of course this won’t stop them from using Switch, Escape Rope, Scramble Switch or Keldeo-EX’s Rush In Ability, but if they don’t have any of those available, then Block can cause real problems if you can use Pokémon Catcher on a non-attacker (like Eelektrik) or something without the Energy to attack (Darkrai-EX decks are especially vulnerable as they typically don’t play switching cards and need to be Benched to use Dark Patch). Yes, your opponent can always send Snorlax back to the Bench with a Catcher of their own, but the important thing is that even in the worst case scenario you are forcing your opponent to spend valuable resources. 

But it’s no good just locking a Pokémon Active if Snorlax can’t back it up with a good attack. Here is where it gets a little tricky. The good news is that Teampact isn’t fussy about what Energy it uses, so Double Colourless and Plasma Energy/Colress Machine can be used. The bad news is that it costs a massive five Energy, so that acceleration will definitely be needed. So, what do you get for that huge investment? Well, Teampact does 30 damage for each of its fellow Team Plasma Pokémon you have in play, which works out at a very nice EX KOing 180 if you have a full Bench. Unfortunately, at the moment there is a real shortage of Team Plasma Pokémon that you would want in play: Lugia-EX is nice, but it too needs a lot of Energy; Giratina PLS is another option, but it’s not really that good of a card. 

If you can wait until the next set is released in May, then the outlook is a whole lot brighter. Deoxys-EX can sit on the Bench and increase attack damage with its Power Connect Ability, while Thundurus-EX can do some early game damage and act as Energy acceleration. Once these cards (and more) are available, Snorlax will be able to slot nicely into a Team Plasma deck which doesn’t have to compromise by playing sub-standard cards to fill the Bench. If the information from Japan is anything to go by, expect to see one or two Snorlax functioning as a big-hitting non-EX sweeper in a deck which looks as if it might well be a top tier contender for National and World Championships.

Rating 

Modified: 2.75 (that’s the rating right now. Once Plasma Freeze is out, I would up that to 3.75)

Limited: 3 (big HP, and Block is useful, but it will take an age to do any damage)

virusyosh

Happy Friday, Pojo readers! Today we end our Card of the Day week with a Generation I Pokemon that's always been a big fan favorite. Today's Card of the Day is Snorlax.
 
Snorlax is a Basic Colorless Team Plasma Pokemon. Colorless Pokemon are nice to use in any format, because they can easily fit into decks due to their relaxed Energy requirements. As a Team Plasma Pokemon, Snorlax gets Team Plasma support, like Colress Machine. 130 HP is fantastic on a non-evolving, non-Pokemon-EX Basic, and Snorlax should be able to take at least one big hit as long as it isn't for Weakness. Unfortunately, its Fighting Weakness means that Landorus-EX will easily KO Snorlax, so be sure to watch out for that. No Resistance is once again a disappointment, as is Snorlax's massive retreat cost of four: be sure to use Switch or Escape Rope to move Snorlax from the Active spot.
 
This Sleeping Pokemon has an Ability and a single attack. Block stops the Defending Pokemon from Retreating, which is really useful and powerful in a game where retreating and switching around is a major strategic point. Even though Block doesn't get around things like Switch, it's still nice to hose Darkrai and other decks reliant on switching around. Block will rarely make much of a difference in Limited, but it can work nicely if your opponent's in a very bad spot. Teampact is Snorlax's form of offense, dealing a potentially powerful 30 damage times the number of Team Plasma Pokemon you have in play for a ridiculously expensive FIVE Colorless Energy. I understand that Snorlax is slow in the video games, but this attack could really have cost four Energy and still have been balanced. Right now, Teampact won't be making much of an impact on Modified, but it may upon the release of Plasma Freeze, where there will be more capable Team Plasma Pokemon with which Snorlax can be a nice team player and secondary attacker. Until then, Snorlax makes a decent addition to Limited decks with many Team Plasma Pokemon, although it's a shame that Teampact's Energy cost is so high.
 
Modified: 2/5 Snorlax has potential, but now is not the right time for the sleeping pseudo-legendary to shine. Block will be useful in any format, but Teampact is far too expensive to be truly useful right now, unless you build some crazy deck around it and Basic Team Plasma Pokemon. Of course, as better Team Plasma Pokemon are released, Snorlax does get better, and since it's Colorless, it can fit nicely into any deck. Overall, Snorlax isn't that good right now, but may be a Pokemon to watch out for once more sets are released.
 
Limited: 3/5 Snorlax is an interesting Pokemon for the Limited environment: a big body with Colorless typing is usually a slam dunk in this format, but its Ability isn't particularly game-changing and its attack is almost always way too expensive. Don't get me wrong, Block is still very good here, but Teampact will often just be a ridiculously priced 30 or 60 damage in most cases, which isn't a great thing. Don't be afraid to use Snorlax in dedicated Team Plasma builds (or if you pull a ton of Colress Machine and Plasma Energy), but most decks won't want to bother.


Otaku

Greetings readers!  As this is the last Card of the Day before, a happy Easter to those who celebrate, and to all I hope you have a good weekend.  We get a nice holiday treat either way, a new Snorlax (BW: Plasma Storm 101/135)!

 

 

For those unaware, I am a huge Snorlax fan: it is my all time favorite Pokémon and has been since I first caught one in Pokémon Blue.  I also have been a fan of the various “team” aligned Pokémon since they first debuted as “Dark” Pokémon in the original Team Rocket expansion, so I begin by acknowledging a double bias towards this card.  Fortunately my method of reviewing, examining the parts of a card and not just the whole, allows my readers to draw their own conclusions even if I make a mistake somewhere along the line.

 

Stats

 

Miscellaneous: Snorlax is a Team Plasma aligned card.  There is one other Modified legal version of Snorlax, so for the rest of this review today’s subject will be referred to as Snorlax [Plasma] for ease of distinction.  Being a Team Plasma Pokémon is pure advantage for now, as nothing released outside of Japan negatively targets the cards.  We’ll discuss the full benefits in the Card Family section.

 

Type: Snorlax [Plasma] is a Colorless-Type Pokémon as it is a Normal-Type in the video games.  The Colorless-Type currently faces no Weakness or Resistance; this is as it was when the game first began and seems to be an intentional return to that “neutral” status; despite some Types being Resistant to Normal-Types in the video games.

 

Being a Colorless-Type Pokémon is a small but practical advantage right now.  It is true that few decks are concerned about Resistance right now and many greatly enjoy the often obscene amount of bonus damage granted by hitting Weakness, but their “Type neutrality” does come in as mildly useful for Types that regularly crash into Resistance, as does their access to one piece of Type Support: Aspertia City Gym.

 

Aspertia City Gym grants Colorless-Type Pokémon a nice +20 HP; a small bonus that is somewhat fragile considering an opponent need only play another Stadium card, but as Aspertia City Gym itself can function as a “counter Stadium” to the popular Virbank City Gym, it is a useful option and is not only one of the few pieces of true Pokémon-Type based support, but also one of the simplest to run.

 

Stage: As a Basic Pokémon, Snorlax [Plasma] will enjoy a format tailored to it.  Basic Pokémon already enjoy several natural advantages; a perfect 1:1 ratio of cards required to get a single copy into play, the ease of simply needing an open Bench slot to get into play, no turns of waiting to get into play via Evolving, and being the only (and thus required) Stage to open the game with.  Many game mechanics favor Pokémon as a natural consequence of these things (like search) and if that wasn’t enough, there are a few cards that work expressly for them, like Eviolite.

 

Of course, when both the card pool in general and members of an Evolutionary line are properly designed, fully Evolved higher Stage Pokémon have their own advantages to balance this out, but rarely if ever has that been properly executed.  I’ll save that lecture for another time.

 

Hit Points: Snorlax [Plasma] enjoys a (currently) perfect 130 HP score.  With the release of the Black & White expansion this became the new maximum HP score for Basic Pokémon that lacked a gimmick like being a Pokémon-EX.  It is the most any previous Snorlax (or Snorlax variant) has ever been printed with, and even in the current format requires some effort or luck to OHKO.

 

In the video games, Snorlax are known for their great HP scores; the 160 Base HP Stat is fifth highest amongst fully Evolved Pokémon (sixth amongst Pokémon overall thanks to fellow first generation Pokémon Chansey).  Its Base Defense is actually pretty poor, clocking in at only 65, but its Special Defense Base Stat is 110, tying with 10 other fully Evolved Pokémon as the 38th highest in the game; given the constraints of the TCG I would say this easily justifies maxing out its HP score with the Defense versus Special Defense balancing out.

 

Weakness: Fighting Weakness is not a happy thing to have but is completely justified; the Normal-Types are naturally only Weak to the video game Fighting-Type.  It is a little annoying that the TCG Fighting-Type also contains video game Ground- and Rock-Type Pokémon, but that is an issue with the system and not this card.

 

So the popular Fighting-Type Pokémon are going to find Snorlax [Plasma] an easy OHKO; the saving grace is that at 130 HP, Snorlax [Plasma] falls into a range where it isn’t ludicrously easy.  Fighting-Type Pokémon tend to hit hard and fast, but not even they are that fast completely in and of themselves; they will need Energy acceleration or combos for a OHKO and especially a FTKO… combos that often are at least close to what would be needed to do the same to a non-Fighting Weak Pokémon of similar size.

 

Resistance: Snorlax [Plasma] has no Resistance, and despite my usual irritation here it is pretty much justified as Normal-Type Pokémon are Immune to Ghost-Types, which does not translate well to the TCG where Ghost-Type Pokémon are only one of three Types that make up the TCG Psychic-Type (the other two being video game Psychic- and Poison-Types).  Having no Resistance is the default in the TCG, so lacking one shouldn’t hurt the card’s score anyway.

 

Retreat: Snorlax in the video games are notorious for their low Speed scores, tying with 11 other fully Evolved Pokémon being the seventh slowest in the game.  It is also the sixth heaviest Pokémon in the game and used to be the heaviest; only Legendary Pokémon are heavier (and I am counting both forms of Giratina separately as they have different weights).

 

So yes, Snorlax [Plasma] deserves its massive Retreat of four.  Somewhat paradoxically, it doesn’t seem to be the worst Retreat score this format despite being the highest; you never want to pay four Energy to retreat even if you have that many attached, but this is a format where due to the card pool and metagame no deck should lack a means of zeroing out this card’s Retreat or bypassing manually retreating to begin with.  Plus it makes Snorlax [Plasma] a legal Heavy Ball target, which makes a Retreat of two functionally worse.

 

Effects

 

Ability: Block prevents an opponent’s Active Pokémon from retreating while it is Active.  Ignoring the card pool, this would be an irritant; factoring in the metagame it is quite promising.  Many decks utilize Darkrai EX (BW: Dark Explorers 63/108, 107/108; BW Promo BW46) for its Dark Cloak Ability that sets the Retreat of a Pokémon with a source of (D) Energy attached to zero; as many such decks have combos expecting that free Retreat, losing it is very disruptive.  I’ll discuss the combos in the Usage section that really beef up Block, but that is more to those cards’ credit than that of Snorlax [Plasma].

 

In the video games, Block is actually an attack; I would prefer it as an Ability but as I don’t play those much and am actually kind of terrible at them (as revealed by competitive play), maybe that would be too good.  An interesting thing to note is that if we go way back to Black Star Promo 49 (that would be during Wizard’s of the Coast time licensing the game and releasing it outside of Japan), we find a Snorlax with the “Guard” Pokémon Power, which is basically the same as “Block”.  Special Conditions stopped almost all Pokémon Powers back when that mechanic was used, but that also makes it seem a little more “attack” like.

 

Attack: I’ve already established that in the video games Snorlax are slow, and while it technically hurts the card’s performance that is reflected by the only attack on Snorlax [Plasma].  “Teampact” requires five Energy to be used; fortunately they are all Colorless requirements, but that is still a staggeringly huge amount.

 

The attack does 30 points of damage for each Team Plasma Pokémon you have in play; this gives a range of 30 points (as the card counts itself) to 180 if you have a Bench full of Team Plasma Pokémon behind Snorlax [Plasma].  Given the amount of Energy invested and the current, going rate you do need at least three other Team Plasma Pokémon to come even close to a decent return, but filling your Bench (even with semi-specific targets) has never been overly hard in Pokémon, and hitting hard enough to OHKO any unprotected Pokémon-EX will often be worth the huge investment.

 

At first I believed this attack to be significantly overpriced, but this is a format with ample Energy acceleration and if you’ve snuck a peak at what Japan already has or the revealed BW: Plasma Freeze cards, you also know that this attack will just become easier to use with the next set.  Team Magma’s Zangoose sported a similar attack called Team Play that required only (CCC) and did 10 per Team Magma Pokémon in play from both players (unlike Snorlax [Plasma]).  Said card was a pretty solid attacker during its day, and considering the entire format the five Energy cost for 30 damage per aligned Pokémon seems to be the only one that is neither too weak nor too strong.

 

Synergy: Besides the basic synergy that most “only while Active” Abilities have with a card’s only attack, if you are fortunate (or using nearly universal combos) you can take advantage of Block to buy some time for powering up Teampact.  Again, combos I’ll elaborate on in the usage section will allow Block to function as the inexpensive attack a card like this needs to balance out the massive cost of Teampact.

 

Usage

 

Card Family: The only other Modified legal Snorlax is BW: Boundaries Crossed 109/149.  It isn’t any competition for Snorlax [Plasma]; 30 less HP an unaligned but sporting the same Type, Weakness, lack of Resistance, and Retreat it has two attacks.  The first Double Lariat for (CCC), which requires you flip two coins and does 40 points of damage per “heads”.  For (CCCC) it also has Rollout which does a flat 60.  These attacks hit for about half of what they would need to in order to be competitive.

 

As for the Team Plasma support… it is one.  Snorlax [Plasma] is Basic, Colorless-Type Pokémon with all Colorless Energy requirements, allowing it to be run in pretty much any Team Plasma deck that doesn’t have oddball (and almost always arbitrary) requirements.  The only other options like this we current have are Lugia EX (BW: Plasma Storm 108/135, 134/135) and Bouffalant (BW: Plasma Storm 114/135); the former is another worthy contender while the latter proved to be filler.

 

Snorlax [Plasma] has one over on Lugia EX in that Snorlax [Plasma] doesn’t require Plasma Energy, though it is definitely aided by the Colress Machine/Plasma Energy combo.  The damage wouldn’t be great, but if you wanted you could run just Snorlax [Plasma] with no other Team Plasma aligned cards and still even get decent Teampact damage (provided you Bench three other copies of itself).

 

Note that I didn’t say that would be a good idea; just highlighting that before the obvious combos, this card isn’t a total waste.  Hypnotoxic Laser makes Block something to be feared; even a deck relying on Keldeo EX (BW: Boundaries Crossed 49/149, 142/149) and its Rush In Ability needs another out… and with deck space so tight not all decks run that second copy of Keldeo EX or emergency copy of Switch.

 

Combos: Hypnotoxic Laser, coupled with Virbank City Gym and Pokémon Catcher can strand some important cards in the Active slot with the damage counters piling up.  You probably won’t be fortunate enough to take any Prizes with this trick, but you will be able to force your opponent to burn resources dealing with it in most match-ups and/or set up for later assaults.  You can even stretch this out with Max Potion and Eviolite; especially if you are not going to bother powering up Teampact, this can really drain an opponent’s deck.

 

Energy acceleration is a must, and while I encourage the use of Colress Machine and Plasma Energy, that really isn’t enough.  Team Plasma lacks good acceleration options right now; unaligned Pokémon won’t contribute to Teampact damage but can speed up the attack immensely.  I won’t claim it would be “good”, but at least on paper you could take a Pokémon like Blastoise (BW: Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW: Plasma Storm 137/135) or Emboar (Black & White 20/114; BW: Next Destinies 100/99; BW Promo BW21) to power up Teampact in a single turn.  Both of those Pokémon have been tossed around as potential backers to Lugia EX; there may be a legitimate deck here.

 

However I would lean more towards Double Colorless Energy and Scramble Switch; while the latter is only good for one shot in most decks and still usually won’t supply the full five Energy required, it should put Snorlax [Plasma] within striking distance; a Double Colorless Energy or Colress Machine/Plasma Energy and manual Energy attachment fully readying it.  While it requires giving up the option of running Computer Search or Dowsing Machine, again this set-up works well with Lugia EX; the two seem to be intended partners.

 

Unlimited: This is a format built around first turn wins.  If you choose to eschew the dominant strategies, including more efficient donk decks, you actually could strive for a Snorlax [Plasma] deck.  If your local metagame has tried to adjust to the more common strategies, it might even be a decent move; most older Pokémon that see play are no where near the size of Pokémon-EX, and even if Pokémon-EX do see play Snorlax [Plasma] could shoot for a donk with just one piece of additional support (over what you would use in Modified): Leafeon LV.X (DP: Majestic Dawn 99/100).

 

Main downside is that if you don’t go first and get the donk, you won’t likely have room for adequate Trainer denial to protect your set up (just one Leafeon eats up the non-Team Plasma allowance).  You probably won’t win often, but you could also just be crazy annoying by running Snorlax [Plasma] with the Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym combo and a Bench full of Slowking (Neo Genesis 14/111).  The rest of the traditional Trainer usage of Unlimited would make Snorlax [Plasma] a hard OHKO and make setting up a reliable attacker quite difficult.

 

Modified: Snorlax [Plasma] is one of the “good” Team Plasma Basic Pokémon.  It doesn’t look to be something you build your entire deck around, and even where it is used you won’t be maxing it out, but it is too big to ignore or easily deal with and feeds off of similar combos as Lugia EX.

 

Limited: Retreating is fairly important in this format, and of course 130 HP is hard to beat when most Evolutions aren’t playable and pulling a Pokémon-EX requires a lot of luck.  Teampact won’t need to max out on damage for a reliable OHKO here (just two or three additional Team Plasma Pokémon on your Bench will probably do), but it will be very, very hard to power-up (in terms of Energy) and you probably will have to leave an Active Snorlax [Plasma] up front until it is KOed.

 

Future: In Japan, this card was played and to my (very limited) knowledge, it still is used (though I can’t confirm that it is by the winners).  I can tell you what it has going for it that it doesn’t yet enjoy here: Deoxys EX (BW: Plasma Freeze 53/116, 111/116) Thundurus EX (BW: Plasma Freeze 38/116, 110/116), Team Plasma Badge (BW: Plasma Freeze 104/116), and Team Plasma Ball (BW: Plasma Freeze 105/116).  Yes, there are already English scans floating around the web for all of these cards as they were revealed early.

 

Deoxys EX and Thundurus EX are Team Plasma Pokémon; the former has an Ability to up the damage done by Team Plasma Pokémon (doesn’t apply to itself or other Deoxys EX) and the latter has an attack (Raiden Knuckle) for just (L) that allows it to attach an Energy card (Special or Basic) from the discard pile to a Benched Team Plasma Pokémon, while also doing 30 points of base damage.  Once again, we have combos that work well with not only Snorlax [Plasma], but Lugia EX.

 

Team Plasma Ball is an Item that fetches a Team Plasma Pokémon from the deck (no other restrictions or requirements).  That will make the above combo/deck much more reliable.  Team Plasma Badge is a Pokémon Tool that (when equipped) causes a Pokémon to count as a Team Plasma Pokémon; whether it is something run at a low count or central to the deck design, that is really useful for most of the deck ideas I’ve mentioned in this review.

 

Ratings

 

Unlimited: 2/5

 

Modified: 3.75/5

 

Limited: 4.5/5

 

 

Summary

Snorlax [Plasma] is a very good card, but not quite a “great” card.  Right now a Team Plasma “Big Basics” deck has almost no alternatives if it wants to have an adequate amount of Pokémon, and besides Lugia EX said alternatives are at least a little weaker than Snorlax [Plasma].  In fact, I was surprised to find out that such decks are already a “thing”; but they are indeed being run with mixed results.

 

Once we get the next chunk of Team Plasma support, Snorlax [Plasma] will be easier to use but also face more rivals, though ultimately I believe it improves the card.  For now, enjoy a Heavy Ball friendly Pokémon that disrupts some common strategies and works well with the Hypnotoxic Laser you are probably already using.


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