– Darkness Ablaze
September 15, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Before I get to the review, I just wanted to express some of my disappointment.
So, some Charizard cards over the years are being notorious to be chase cards because of how extremely popular this Pokemon is. Ranging from Base Set Charizard to today’s Charizard (which currently costs $110 by the way), that can sometimes cause your wallet to be empty sooner than you expect. Some of the Charizard cards possess the ability to dish out tons of damage that is sometimes more than enough to OHKO anything, albeit with the cost of something or the drawback after using an attack. I’ve got a few examples:
-Base Set Charizard has an attack called Fire Spin, which costs RRRR for 100 damage and makes you discard two energy cards attached to this Charizard. 100 damage was enough to OHKO 99.9% of the Pokemon TCG in it’s time except for Charizard itself and Chansey, since they both possess 120 HP, the highest printed HP at the time.
-Later on, we’ve got Charizard-ex from EX Firered & Leafgreen. It’s Burn Down attack costs RRRRR for 200 damage, and makes you discard FIVE of your fire energies attached to it. Even though it’s an attack that’s incredibly difficult to repeat, it is enough to OHKO anything in the game, even Wailord-ex’s own 200 HP!!! If only you had an easier way to accelerate energies in your own time…
-Then, there’s Team Galactic Boss Cyrus’s Charizard SP Lv.X whose Malevolent Fire, which costs RRCCC for 150 damage, with a 50% chance of discarding all energies attached to Charizard SP Lv.X. 150 is actually a bit short from OHKOing Wailord and some other Lv.X, though Expert Belt was there to deal 20 extra damage, which is enough to secure OHKOs on 99.9% of the Pokemon at the time.
-Further along, we got Mega Charizard EX, both the X and Y versions in XY FlashFire! Both Wild Blaze and Crimson Dive costed FIVE energies and dealt 300 damage, which was more than enough to OHKO anything except those who have a protective effect. Charizard X’s drawback of Wild Blaze was to discard the top 5 cards of your deck while Crimson Dive does 50 recoil damage to Charizard Y. Although those drawbacks might be manageable under the right circumstances, it’s still a pain to bear.
-Charizard-GX, despite being a Stage 2, still maintained the ability to OHKO anything in sight. Crimson Storm costs RRRCC for 300 damage, and you have to discard 3 Fire energies attached to this Pokemon. With Pokemon-GX’s HP count (factoring TAG TEAMs as well) is between 160 to 300, Crimson Storm can still OHKO anything unless someone boosts their own HP via Fighting Fury Belt or Buff Padding.
And finally, we get to Charizard VMAX, and sad to say, it broke the tradition of the ability to OHKO something with ease.
Let’s start with Claw Slash. It costs three energy of any kind, which could be easily met with Triple Acceleration Energy, and it does 100 damage. For something reasonably priced, this is something you could use repeatedly, but that’s probably not how Charizard is used. It’s second attack, G-MAX Wildfire costs the same as Crimson Storm at RRRCC and also does 300 damage while discarding 2 energy from this Pokemon. When the announcement came out saying that there will be a Charizard V-Max card (keep in mind that scans and translations haven’t been deciphered), I was hoping it would have something to deal 400 damage flat. That…didn’t happen. 300 damage isn’t the overkill it once was. In fact, it actually falls short of OHKOing most VMax Pokemon because the HP range of that is between 300 to 340. Vitality Band only gives you the ability to deal 10 extra damage, which is still not enough to OHKO anything. What we need is one more thing…
…and I think that thing is about to arrive. I may have briefly mentioned something a few days ago, but Leon is a new Supporter that’s about to be on the SS Vivid Voltage expansion after Darkness Ablaze, and he lets any of your Pokemon deal 30 extra damage to the Defending Pokemon. With Vitality Band and Leon, G-Max Wildfire can finally achieve OHKOs against the maximum printed HP before HP buffs. I find it pretty irritating that you would have to add more investment to actually achieve OHKOs unlike some of the past Charizard cards that DIDN’T need a Pokemon Tool AND having to use up your Supporter card (while forfeiting other Supporters in that specific turn) at the time to achieve the same purpose. Even with support from Welder, it’s not enough to go from zero to attacking in one turn (you might with Claw Slash, though).
Despite some of the disappointment I’ve expressed, I think this could be a Pokemon that’s worth experimenting. Having an attack that does a flat 300 damage right off the bat without fulfilling any conditions is almost unheard of, and it’s sometimes a good thing even if it does overkill damage against most things; you want something off the board, and Charizard’s GMax Wildfire does it’s job well.
As a Pokémon VMAX, Charizard VMAX (SW – Darkness Ablaze 020/189) is worth an extra two Prizes when KO’d. It means all effects – good or bad – that reference Pokémon V affect Charizard VMAX, in addition to effects that specifically cite Pokémon VMAX. Another thing owed VMAX status is this is not a Stage 2, but has “VMAX” as its Stage. It is like being a Stage 1 without counting as a Stage 1 for card effects. Definitely a good thing. So is the massive HP boost; Charizard VMAX has 330 HP, just 10 below the current printed maximum, over twice what any baseline Charizard has, 60 above Charizard & Braixen-GX, 60 above Reshiram & Charizard-GX, and 80 above Charizard-GX. It’s a nice, beefy HP score.
Charizard VMAX is a Fire type, which is pretty great for type-matching, as it looks like Zacian VMAX decks are going to remain huge. Fire also still has some good bits of support, even if a lot of it is actually based on Fire Energy and can work with non-[R] Pokémon (like Welder). [W] Weakness could finally be a real problem; the Players Cup Finals results suggest Frosmoth/Inteleon VMAX is a very competitive deck; even if it were to turn out that it was simply a strong play for this specific tournament, more people will be playing it. If it is legit, then your HP is effectively halved in that match up. No Resistance is the worst, but common, so it isn’t really a problem. A Retreat Cost of [CCC] is one too high for Air Balloon and one too low for Buff Padding.
Charizard VMAX knows two attacks. “Claw Slash” lets it do 100 damage for [CCC]. This is decent if we have another reason for running Triple Acceleration Energy in this deck, or a lot of non-Fire Energy. As long as Welder is in the same Format, Charizard VMAX would probably be better off with some [R] requirements in the cost but higher damage output. A year from now, things may be very different. “G-Max Wildfire” costs [RRRCC], and let’s Charizard VMAX swing for 300 damage, while also requiring you discard two Energy from itself. This is very disappointing; while I’ve chided them saddling past Charizard cards massive Energy requirements to attack for high damage that was clearly in overkill territory, this will OHKO only the smallest Pokémon VMAX. Yeah, everything else that is unprotected is getting OHKO’d, but for five Energy and a two Energy discard? Nothing should be surviving. At least you can discard Triple Acceleration Energy to pay for the attack’s discard cost, before Triple Acceleration Energy’s own effect would discard it.
We looked at Charizard V yesterday. I was probably a little too generous with it, because it’s a pretty vanilla Fire-beatstick with a weaker Claw Slash, though its Fire Spin seems like a better attack. Yes, Fire Spin does 80 less damage than G-Max Wildfire, but it is on a Basic Pokémon V and costs one fewer [R] Energy. I don’t think things are any better for Charizard VMAX in Expanded, unless a deck for Charizard V is found here, and Charizard VMAX becomes the go-to evolution for getting around anti-Basic effects. Pretty sure that isn’t happening. At least Charizard VMAX is a great pull for the Limited Format. You’ll still need Charizard V as well, but whether you go with a Mulligan build or include Basic Pokémon other than Charizard V, you’ll have a big, buff boi that can periodically unleash massive OHKO’s.
Charizard VMAX is a disappointment; no massive milling effect like Charizard-GX (SM – Burning Shadows 20/147, 150/147; SM – Black Star Promos SM60; Shiny Vault SV49/SV94), and no attack which OHKO’s the max HP like Charizard-GX (Hidden Fates 9/68; SM – Black Star Promos SM211). At least it is a beefy boy in its own right, but Fire decks already have better options.
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