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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day



- Generations

Date Reviewed:
April 4, 2016

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Standard: 2.25
Expanded: 2.25
Limited: 3.38

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page


Well now, and another week to run more cards today! And let's face it, we've had so so many! But today, we're gonna take a look at something from the Radiant Collection. Today, we look at fan favorite Charizard! 

Now this Charizard is interesting for two reasons, one of which being the artwork. This is actually a set of three including his pre-evolutions, and it tells the story of a boy and his Pokemon, maturing alongside him and growing up with him after bullying him around as a Charmander before teaming up and traveling with him as a Charmeleon and a Charizard. Here, he's shielding the boy from the cold winter storm as they climb up one of the many mountains in the world. It's a touching sight to say the least! 

And then there's Charizard's attacks, the first of which is Recall. For just 1 Energy, Charizard can let you use the attacks of any of his previous evolutions, like Charmeleon's Call for Support that can nab a Supporter or Charmander's Playful attack, which has a 50/50 shot of dealing 20 damage for every damage counter on him. Course there's a variety of other Charmanders and Charmeleons to use with this attack, so feel free to switch them around and figure out what's best to use for Charizard's Recall - Standard or Expanded, since well, Limited would just be this line-up. 

Recall's actually got another important use, and that's to allow Charizard an attack after using up Combustion Blast. At 4-for-130, it's a hefty move for a non-EX, and its only counteracted by the restriction of being unable to use it on subsequent turns - that is, one turn after the other. So it's clear to see what they're aiming for - use Charizard's Combustion Blast on one turn to deal massive damage, and then ideally finish them off with one of your other attacks. Even Charmeleon's Slash can do a lot, what with 80 damage on top of the 130 damage totaling to 210 - and that's before any boosts from, say, Muscle Band? 

So Charizard's got a lot going for him, in all honesty. Sure, he might not be totally competitive, and 4 Energy is still a lot to add up to even with acceleration, but if you can manage to build a good deck around him, I'd say he's fairly competent in the casual corner. If nothing else, he makes a great collector's piece like Emboar (LTR) from before! 


Standard: 2.5/5 (not gonna say he's competitive, but he's definitely a solid option to try out!) 

Expanded: 2.5/5 (now if only he were Grass-type, or we get Pillar of Fiery Fire or something...) 

Limited: 3.5/5 (some nifty things about this guy) 

Arora Notealus: Seriously though, 160 HP? For a non-BREAK, non-EX Charizard? Ain't that crazy? I mean it's a little crazy, right? Wasn't the cap at 150 for Stage 2s? 

Next Time: Flip it upside down and move it all around!


We begin this week with Charizard (Generations RC5/RC32): now I’m all fired up! 

With embarrassment I mean; when we went to pick out a Top 3 for Generations, scans were hard to come by so to help out myself and the other reviewers I Google for scans and took out all the reprints, providing a temporary set of scans to reference until the usual sites updated with far better ones.  I… forgot Charizard.  Let’s see if it was a major (it would have made the list) or minor (I hate forgetting things).  Before we actually dive into the meat of the card, especially as this was part of the Radiant Collection subset, I will talk about the art.  Yeah, it is just that great.  I don’t know about the technical details, but I know what I like and that is the Generations Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard telling a story!  It is like what we saw with the Tepig, Pignite and Emboar in BW: Legendary Treasures but instead of a family scene we just see the two start out a bit at odds and grow together as a team. 

Charizard is a Fire Type as you would expect, though as it is part Flying Type a Colorless version would be an option.  Being a Fire-Type brings access to some solid support; oddly enough while older support for some of the Types is obsolete or at least weaker than when it was introduced, the Fire-Type support like Blacksmith and Scorched Earth are probably better now than then.  Unfortunately what I just named is it for the “good” support give or take a few solid attackers that said support will allow to work more effectively here than in other decks.  Even where there are combos between Fire-Types, it seems to be a Pokémon A plus Pokémon B kind of thing; Team Magma’s Camerupt and Camerupt-EX, for example, work well together but not as well with other Fire-Types.  If this seems like a nitpick, think of how Keldeo-EX and Zoroark (XY: BREAKthrough 91/162) really help out decks that barely use or even have no support for their respective Types.  Fire Weakness is almost universal on both Grass Types and Metal Types, which sounds better than it is: most of the current examples of those Types from competitive play are either small enough you won’t need Weakness to score the OHKO (especially with a Muscle Band), Bench-sitters you’ll need to force Active, or both. 

Being a Stage 2 is difficult right now.  Charizard has no super shortcut like the Fighting (Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick) and Water (Archie’s Ace in the Hole) Types.  Not that I want such a thing for other Types - I’d prefer they didn’t exist for any Type - it is just that realistically the Stage 2 Pokémon of those Types have a much easier time entering play.  You can use Wally or Rare Candy to get Charizard into play more quickly, but those are additional resources plus in the case of Rare Candy Item lock is far from rare.  You’ll need to use a Charmander no matter what and probably ought to include a Charmeleon as well; we’ll look at our options for those after finishing up with Charizard.  Compared to everything but Restored Pokémon and BREAK Evolutions of Stage 1 and 2 Pokémon, this is more difficult to implement as it is quite a bit of resources and time.  The 160 HP is the maximum we have seen printed on a Stage 2 and is a welcome sight.  It is not the highest, with some BREAK Evolutions, Wailord (BW: Dragons Exalted 26/124), and most Pokémon-EX meeting or exceeding that amount, but sometimes Charizard can take a hit even when the opponent has a solid setup.  Not so much against Water Types due to the Weakness, but at least Charizard didn’t get something more dangerous like Lightning Weakness.  The total lack of Resistance is a bit disappointing but not unexpected and the Retreat Cost of [CCC] is chunky enough you’ll need to make sure your deck addresses it. 

Charizard doesn’t have an Ability or Ancient Trait.  Again a little color commentary: I am okay that Ancient Traits seem to have been a temporary gimmick.  Charizard does have two attacks at least.  The first attack is “Recall” for just [C] and its effect allows you to use an attack from one of its previous Evolutions but without paying the Energy cost printed beside said attack.  The wording is a bit confusing; based on similar cards, “Evolutions” in this case includes Basic Pokémon so Charizard can copy attacks from whatever Charmander it started out as or from a Charmeleon if you did not use Rare Candy.  The good news is that this makes the cards that are usually just placeholders for the final Stage of Evolution relevant, but we’ll need to see if the designers actually kept that in mind while making at least the newest Charmander and Charmeleon.  If they didn’t, this attack might be good in theory but bad in practice.  The second attack is “Combustion Blast” and it requires [RRCC] to hit for 130 damage, plus the attack text indicates you cannot use it again the next turn.  Without that clause the attack is solid, giving you the kind of damage you need for that much Energy.  Without getting fancy that is enough to 2HKO anything without a protective effect, HP buff, etc.  With the effect, the attack is mediocre but still has some potential.  If Recall pans out, we still have a solid combination.  If Recall really has some good picks, we might not even need Combustion at all.  The Energy costs for the two attacks are also good; a smaller attack leading into a larger, and lots of Colorless costs. 

Charmander has a single option for Standard play, Generations RC3/RC32.  Expanded includes the older BW: Boundaries Crossed 18/149, which was released with new art as BW: Legendary Treasures 17/113.  Both cards are Basic, Fire Type Pokémon with Water 70 HP, Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC], no Ancient Trait and no Ability.  The older BW: Boundaries Crossed 18/149 as two attacks: “Draw In” for [R] and “Flare” for [RC].  Draw In allows you to attach two [R] Energy from the discard pile to itself while Flare simply does 20 damage.  Generations RC3/RC32 has only one attack and that is “Playful”, which does 20 damage for each damage counter on itself, provided you flip “heads” on a mandatory coin toss.  “Tails” does nothing, and that is neither of these Charmander thrill me.  They do show more effort and potential than many other twice Evolving Basic Pokémon, but I suspect this Charmander is better of focusing on Recall which means attaching extra Energy is unneeded, while Playful would be pretty good except for the coin flip.  Playful is not the kind of attack you use when you have little to no damage, so if you get “tails” odds are your opponent is finishing off your Charmander (or Charizard that used Recall).  On Charmander itself, Recall is actually a little underwhelming; while it can still hit for a decent amount  it now needs two Energy and an opponent that falls just 10 or 20 points shy of KOing Charmander.  The coin flip has better odds than taking the optimal amount of damage.  Surprisingly BW: Legendary Treasures 17/113 got a review here. 

Charmeleon also has two options in the form of three cards.  BW: Boundaries Crossed 19/149 was reprinted with new art as BW: Legendary Treasures 18/113 while Generations RC4/RC32 is its own thing.  Both are Stage 1 Fire Type Pokémon with 90 HP, Water Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC], no Ancient Trait, no Ability, and two attacks.  BW: Boundaries Crossed 19/149 can use “Flare” for [R] to do a flat 20 damage or for [RCC] can use “Raging Claws” to do 50 damage plus 10 per damage counter on itself.  These are actually solid attacks in their own right, though on a 90 HP Stage 1 they don’t seem like it.  Generations RC4/RC32 actually gives a similar performance in terms of quality, but going a different route.  For [C] it can use “Call for Support” to search your deck for a Supporter it adds to your hand.  Not a good move most of the time, but a nice fallback measure.  For [RRC] it can use “Slash” for 80 damage.  On Charmeleon this is overpriced but better than many Evolving Stage 1 Pokémon see; when used via Recall on Charizard it becomes a good 80-for-[C].  Recall already made Rare Candy a bad idea, and in Expanded I recommend running a split of the two Charmeleon.  In Standard, you only can pick Generations RC4/RC32.  Just a fun aside:  while using the older Charmeleon breaks up the “story” being told on the Generations version of the line with a different art style, it still seems mesh with the narrative.  Generations RC3/RC32 appears to be a playful prankster, so it swiping some fruit in BW: Legendary Treasures 18/113 seems in character. 

There is also one other Charizard to consider though it was printed three times: BW: Boundaries Crossed 20/149, BW: Plasma Storm 136/135, and BW: Legendary Treasures 19/113.  Apart from card art, card ID#, etc. the only differences between this Charizard and today’s are in the attacks.  For [RCC] it can use “Split Bomb” to hit two of your opponent’s Pokémon (your choice) for 40 damage each.  For the hefty cost of [RCCCC] it can use “Scorching Fire” to do 150 damage, but it has to discard a [R] from itself as part of the attack’s effect.  BW: Plasma Storm 136/135 has a misprint that has received an erratum: even though it says [FCCCC] for the cost, you still play it as if it read [RCCCC].  Even the-powers-that-be seem to make the Fighting-for-Fire mistake people like me do since [F] is short for Fighting and [R] for Fire in TCG shorthand.  Both of these attacks are underwhelming.  In terms of damage they were a bit better when they came out, but they were also harder to use back then.  Five Energy in an attack cost is difficult even with Blacksmith and Double Colorless Energy.  Even if we still had Boost Energy - an older Special Energy that provided [CCC] but discarded itself at the end of the turn and could only be attached to Evolutions - this would be tricky.  For five Energy, even when four of the five are [C], to be competitive you need to be setting up for a probable OHKO.  Right now that means 200 damage, not 150.  Even adding in other combos, there are too many exceptions for OHKOing most Pokémon.  You need to layer on either Muscle Band or Silver Bangle with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym and you still come up short on Wailord-EX and many Mega Evolutions. This Charizard was first reviewed here and got a re-review thanks to its reprint.  I didn’t get to review it then but probably would have rated it similarly… and been too generous just like those reviews. 

So back to Charizard (Generations RC5/RC32): is this worthy of competitive play?  I don’t think so but it comes pretty close.  In fact, it is solely because the pace of the game makes it all too likely that Charizard is going to get taken down in one hit.  As I usually would have emphasized when first discussing the card’s HP, everything is vulnerable to OHKO in the current format: even Pokémon with record HP scores or built in protection from being OHKO’d still can go down with one attack because of certain combos.  A two or three card investment before Energy, Pokémon Tools and various combos plus the time lost to Evolving cost Charizard its competitive edge.  Since I’ve taken time to share my opinions more than once already, I do not want Charizard to be faster, I want the rest of the format to slow down a bit, which isn’t happening.  So without crazy powerhouse combos that most decks are trying to reach by their second turn, Charizard would be a beast.  Thanks to Recall you can use the attacks off of Charmeleon for just one Energy.  That means Slash is a solid attack as with Muscle Band you’d manage 100 damage per turn and with a cost of just [C] you could afford to Max Potion or Super Potion the damage you’d take from your opponent’s attacks.  The other Charmeleon is an option in Expanded, where if you don’t mind the risk of a follow up OHKO Raging Claws will also be amazing for [C] (and with 160 HP).  Periodically a Double Colorless Energy and/or Blacksmith would get Charizard prepped for Combustion Blast when it would be worth it. 

Go ahead and give that a try in Standard or Expanded anyway, but because you enjoy using Charizard and not because you expect to win tournaments.  Even someone like myself that thinks Charizard is overrated (...I went with Pokémon Blue just because I thought Blastoise looked cooler) still likes to use it.  Maybe if you find some missing combo you’ll even be able to prove me wrong and get a tournament viable deck going, but I doubt it.  Generations doesn’t seem like a set where you’ll get to do much in the way of Limited Format play, but if you do then this is an excellent pull.  The lower Stages are alright on there own in this format, assuming you have enough room for basic Fire Energy cards.  If you’ve got Charizard, you have the option of just running it to use Recall, though with the lack of search and draw power that might not be a wise idea. 


Standard: 2/5 

Expanded: 2/5 

Limited: 3.75/5 

Summary: Another Charizard, another Stage 2 that cannot quite cut it in competitive play.  Charizard at least puts some effort into it and you can see how it could be useful, just missing that last little bit to be competitive.  Maybe if we get a good Charizard BREAK to go with it?

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