– Darkness Ablaze
December 1, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
We’re now looking at what would be the 17th best card of Sword & Shield Vivid Voltage: Charizard (SS Vivid Voltage 25/185)! This is a Stage 2 Fire type with 170 HP, Water Weakness, a retreat cost of CCC, an Ability, and an attack. Those stats are probably what you’ll expect from a Charizard cards, but decent stats nonetheless. For the most part, though, it’s the ability and attack that caught my eye. I didn’t have Charizard on the list because I worry that some other cards interact with this card; I’ve seen cards like this interact with other cards such as Cynthia/Garchomp from SM Ultra Prism, Steven’s Resolve/Metagross from SM Celestial Storm, and much more! Maybe I should’ve ranked them individually instead of grouping them.
Charizard has an ability called Battle Sense. This ability lets you look at the top three cards from your deck, choose one of them in your hand, and discard the other cards. Unless I didn’t scroll down further, this effect is identical to Infernape LV.X’s (Diamond & Pearl 121/130, DP Black Star Promos DP10) Burning Head Poké-Power! This was a good effect at the time and still is now (especially for Charizard since it is a Stage 2, and not a Level X card that acts like a pseudo Stage 3 like Infernape, and Charizard has way more HP than Infernape), since you’re effectively thinning your deck by 3 cards. However, what you would grab from those three cards are totally random (unless you have other sources to control which cards you want in your deck to be on the top card of your deck). You could use Oranguru’s Primate Wisdom to switch one card from your hand that you don’t need with the top card of your deck BEFORE using Battle Sense, and you mitigate some of the losses. Or, for Expanded, you could use Magcargo’s Smooth Over to grab whatever card you want and put it on top of your deck. Battle Sense will guarantee that you get that particular card, though, the other two cards could potentially be good as well, creating a dilemma of picking one card and discard the other two crucial cards. There are some cards that would like to be in the discard pile such as Basic energy cards, maybe some Pokémon that doesn’t have a purpose against certain decks, or even some Trainer cards that you won’t be able to use in your turn. Speaking about Trainers, there is one specific card that would also like to be in the discard pile, which I’ll get to soon. Also, if you have multiple Charizards in play, then you can use Battle Sense multiple times, whose draw power could eventually fake being Professor Research even though the discard stings.
Royal Blaze is Charizard’s only attack, which cost RR and does 100 damage. It also does 50 additional damage for each Leon card in your discard pile. Leon is a Supporter card which lets your Pokémon deal 30 extra damage to the Defending Pokémon. This card was reviewed as the second best card of Vivid Voltage by both Otaku and me. Despite some drawbacks Leon had, it is still one of the best cards of the set. Anyways, with four Leon in the discard pile, Royal Blaze does 300 damage. And if you’ve played Leon during your turn, then that’s 330 damage, and it is a Vitality Band and/or Galarian Zizzagoon away to securing an OHKO against…..any Pokémon in the game before factoring HP buffs! All for the price of two Fire energies that can be met with Welder! Damage wise, Charizard probably outclasses nearly all the other Stage 2 Fire types without relying on exploiting Weakness, so is this enough for Charizard to see any competitive play?
Maybe. Stage 2 decks are still struggling to make the cut in tournaments due to needing some setup to get them in play and replacing them in case they are KOed. But I think it’s because of Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX’s Altered Creation making single prize Pokemon liable for two prizes for each KO they make. I still think Charizard can still come in after the previous Active Pokemon got KOed and return fire to OHKO ADP-GX and come in on the prize trade. Currently, what I think is the only rival to Charizard is Blacephalon from SM Unbroken Bonds as it is a Basic instead of a Stage w. This Ultra Beast is also capable of dealing just as much damage Charizard does, albeit with different investments. Instead of having four copies of Leon in the discard pile, you’ll need six – or maybe seven – Fire energies in your hand to OHKO any Pokémon in the game. So pretty much take your pick regarding how easy you think you can achieve: four Leons in your discard pile plus Rare Candy to evolve Charmander into a Charizard OR having seven Fire energies in your hand each time you use Fireball Circus.
Whether or not you want to use Charizard, this is one of the few viable Stage 2 Pokémon that can achieve enough damage to OHKO a majority of Pokémon given the right setup. In Limited, if you manage to pull the right Prerelease promo, then you can already build a deck around Charizard. I still haven’t seen the list of what the 23 evolutionary pack contain, but should it contain even one Leon, Charizard should get the job done. Such emphasis can’t be said enough without talking about how Charizard is also the star of the show in its own Theme Deck (which I still haven’t got this Theme Deck because they constantly sold out). This Theme Deck contains a 3-3-2 Charizard line and two copies of Leon. So, Royal Blaze will only do 200 damage…which is enough to OHKO any Pokémon in the Theme Format. Battle Sense, couple with several useful draw based Supporters will ensure that you would get the pieces to not only bring Charizard into play, but also manage resources.
A great ability as well as an attack that does absurd damage without too much of a cost and existing Fire based support in Standard would help Charizard would spawn at least one budget deck that could compete in a higher level. Given Charizard’s poor track record in the Pokémon TCG (being chase cards and attacks that cost FIVE energy), today’s card is a nice change of pace.
Today we look at Charizard (SW – Vivid Voltage 025/185; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH066), latest iteration of an iconic Pokémon with a dubious track record for competitive play. It is a runner-up from our countdown, having effectively taken 17th-Place (…in a top 15), but I actually had Charizard as my 9th-Place pick! I’m definitely biased in favor of this card, even though I was a Blastoise-boy in G1. That being said, I want to be clear up front: this review is Theorymon. No excuses; I had this planned out and I didn’t deliver, hence leading the review with this important fact.
Charizard is a baseline, single-Prize Pokémon, at a time when that’s effectively an advantage. Such Pokémon do have a competitive presence, but most of the metagame are heavy hitting, multi-Prize Pokémon. This means Charizard could win the Prize trade and does not have to worry about being excluded from miscellaneous beneficial effects or dealing with Pokémon-GX/Pokémon V counters. As it is a regular Charizard, it is a Stage 2 Pokémon; relative to the rest of the metagame, this means it is slow and resource intensive just to hit the field. Even with Rare Candy, you’re still investing three cards and one turn to evolve.
Charizard is a Fire type, at a time when that’s very good. While there is a decent chunk of [R] Pokémon support, I’m uncertain how much of it will pan out for Charizard. Maybe Heat [R] Energy? No, the strength of this typing comes from the prominence of Fire Weak Pokémon, most notably Zacian V. A nice little bonus is how nothing is Fire Resistant, though there are some anti-Fire effects that could be a concern, such as Bronzong (SM – Team Up 101/181) or Vaporeon (SW – Vivid Voltage 030/185). Support for basic Fire Energy is also strong, though technically most of that does not care about the Pokémon’s typing.
Charizard has 170 HP, giving it a decent chance of surviving a hit, which is only adequate given its a Stage 2. Water Weakness can be a problem: at least the Inteleon VMAX version of Frosmoth deaths has proved itself. This is of particular note because Inteleon VMAX is a more technical attacker, so its “big” attack just barely needs Weakness for a OHKO. No Resistance is the worst Resistance, but Resistance seems more or less balanced, unlike Weakness. Coupled with most Pokémon lacking Resistance, it means this isn’t really a drawback. What is a drawback is the Retreat Cost of [CCC]; while not a dealbreaker, this is the worst Retreat Cost right now. As with higher Retreat Cost Pokémon, you’ll need to rely on switching cards… which are equally effective whether your Retreat Cost is [CCC] or [CCCC]. The latter, however, also gains access to cards like Buff Padding.
Charizard has one Ability and one attack. “Battle Sense” is an Ability you can use once during your turn, per instance of it you have in play, and prior to attacking or doing anything else which would end your turn. Battle Sense has you look at the top three cards of your deck, select one to add to your hand, then the other two go to your discard pile. It is a little reckless, and can backfire spectacularly, but overall it is still a useful means of accelerating your setup. As for the attack, [RR] lets Charizard attack with “Royal Blaze”: 100 damage, plus 50 more per copy of Leon in your discard pile. You can run up to four Leon, so that means 100 to 300 damage. For an attack that can be fueled with a single Welder, on a single Prize Pokémon!
There’s definitely synergy between these two effects. While Leon is a great Supporter, granting +30 damage the turn you play it. In other words, it is something you’d have at least considered running even without Royal Blaze’s specific damage bonus. What makes it work well with Battle Sense is simple; it is another way to get Leon into the discard pile, even if you aren’t actually using a copy of Leon that turn. Digging through the top few cards of your deck with Battle Sense gives you a slight edge for pulling off combos, though there’s the risk you’ll have to discard up to two pieces while adding a third to your hand.
While risky, Battle Sense means you have a way of building your hand even when your Supporter is being spent on something else (Boss’s Orders, Leon, etc.). It is also important to remember the potential scope of Royal Blaze; 300 falls short of OHKOing most Pokémon VMAX, but if you played a Leon that turn, the 330 OHKO’s almost anything in the game (prior to HP buffs, protective effects, etc.). If you can pull off a Lt. Surge’s Strategy into a double Leon, while having two more copies of Leon already in your discard pile, you can swing for an insane 360 damage; not easy, but you’ll only need it when a chunkier Pokémon VMAX can soak damage, or has its already impressive HP elevated.
I believe Charizard is the new face of budget decks. All budget decks? No. Fortunately, we have a decent example of this happening before, with a different Charizard: Charizard (SM – Team Up 14/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM158, SM226). Mostly the same stats as today’s Charizard, but with 150 HP and a Retreat Cost of [CC]. Its “Roaring Resolve” Ability let you attach two basic Fire Energy cards from your deck to itself, while also placing two damage counters on itself. It was a once-per-turn effect, so you couldn’t load up a single Charizard with massive amounts of Energy, but its the kind where each instance can attach [RR] to (and place two damage counters on) each Charizard. Its “Continuous Blaze Ball” attack costs [RR], discards all [R] Energy from itself, and does 30 damage plus 50 more per Energy discarded in this manner.
There hasn’t exactly been a lot of tournaments this year, so one has to guess as to whether or not it would be showing up more often if events were more frequent. I’m guessing “No.” It can still hit a quick 180 damage with relative ease, and a reasonable – but not always reliable – manual Energy attachment, Roaring Resolve, and Welder for a total of five Fire Energy, this Charizard can swing for 280 damage in a single turn. In 2019, especially post-Welder, this was enough. Roaring Resolve decks weren’t dominant, but they did sometimes place well at events. Now? Now we need Royal Blaze numbers to deal with Pokémon V (Basic and VMAX). Which is why I think today’s Charizard is the new face of budget decks.
You can get today’s Charizard in the questionably named “Charizard Theme Deck” that released alongside SW – Vivid Voltage. It is an accurate description, but there have been many past Charizard Theme Decks, and likely, there will be many more in the future. This new Theme Deck contains two copies of today’s Charizard, as well as Leon. While it is not as simple as buying two copies of this Theme Deck and combining the best 60 of the 120 cards, I doubt it is much more than that plus adding in already proven Fire deck staples like Welder. Okay, okay, for a high quality list it will be, but we’re still talking about the budget version.
What is more, it might also be Expanded appropriate. There is a lot of disruption, which hits a Stage 2 deck hard, but Charizard is not totally shutdown when its Ability goes off line. When Item-denial is making Rare Candy a problem, and there’s even a decent Charmeleon (Dragon Majesty 2/70; Shiny Vault SV7/SV94). Its “Burning Fighter” Ability is even more reckless than Battle Sense, but provides added Energy acceleration, plus a chance to discard copies of Leon. For a budget deck, it seems decent, but I don’t expect as much here as I do in Standard, and I wasn’t expecting it to dominate Standard. Battle Compressor and VS Seeker, assuming you have them to run and Items are working, should really help with Leon plays.
How about the Limited Format? Charizard is a good pull; unless you’re running a Mulligan deck, include it just for its Ability if you’re not running Fire Energy or Leon. With Fire Energy, the HP is great and the damage is decent; if at least one copy of Leon is in your discard pile, the damage is good (or better)! Which is why the Charizard Theme Deck is (probably) good as well. This is where I am most disappointed in myself; normally, by now I would have at least put the new Theme Decks through their paces, but I haven’t even touched them yet. I don’t know if the other Pokémon in this deck are really worth it, but the Trainers and Energy look good, and Charizard is going to be the star of it either way.
Meet the new ‘Zard, same as the old ‘Zard… well, in the sense that we’ve been fortunate enough to receive two decent baseline Charizard cards in a row. Well, ignoring Charizard (Detective Pikachu 5/18), which slipped in between the second and third releases of Charizard (SM – Team Up 14/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM158, SM226). This Charizard does require good hand management and deck building skills, but it is readily available and can deliver enough damage to make being a Stage 2 tolerable.
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