Reshiram & Charizard-GX
– Unbroken Bonds
May 20, 2019
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
With the countdown being over with, we’re looking at cards from the runner-up list that still has potential for competitive play. Reshiram & Charizard-GX should’ve made the list, but I tend to prioritize in a certain way (every Sylveon card > General Usage > Deck Focus > Niche effects that can be useful in few circumstances). Those Pokémon have done well for itself, being placed 5th in Limitless based on “Best Deck by Points” despite being used about 4.66% of the time. Perhaps those Pokémon’s potential lies not just from the card itself, but with other cards supporting it, regardless if it is type related or stage related.
They have no abilities but three attacks, which makes it easier for Green’s Exploration to be used. Outrage cost RC for 30 damage, plus 10 more damage for each damage counter those Pokémon have. With 270 HP, the damage can be anywhere between 30 to 290 before factoring other boosting cards. This is a pretty risky attack. While you can deliver huge damage, you’re most likely to be in very low HP, making your opponent finish you off with a weaker attack for THREE prizes! Not an ideal prize trade. Flare Strike cost RRRC for 230 damage, and you can’t use that attack on your next turn. A soft lock of your own that can be played around. Double Blaze cost RRR for 200 damage, but if they have three extra Fire energy attached to them, then it does 100 more damage, and this attack’s damage isn’t affected by effects from your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
These attacks seems like they’re nothing to be excited about as it is about hitting big numbers, but getting energies onto those Pokémon can determine if it is easy to use or not. Fortunately for Charizard & Reshiram-GX, there is for both Fire type support and basic support for both Standard and Expanded. I’ve seen standard decks use Heat Factory for drawing cards, Fire Crystal for nabbing three Fire energies from the discard into your hand, and Welder for both energy acceleration AND draw power. For Expanded, there’s Blacksmith for energy acceleration from the discard pile onto your Pokemon and Fiery Torch for item based draw. With adequate support, any Fire Pokémon can potentially go from zero into attacking. It’s just a matter of who is the better Fire type attacker, and looks like Charizard & Reshiram-GX fits the bill.
Chances are if you’ve seen anything over in Japan, you might have heard a few rumors that Fire decks are doing really well right now. Possibly that’s because of some big scary Pokemon running around, and the truth of the matter is that that’s not true in the least.
There are two big scary Pokemon running around, and they’ve teamed up together to reek havoc!
Reshiram & Charizard-GX is a Basic Fire Tag Team Pokemon-GX, 270 HP, with a Water Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 3. Outrage is the kind of attack that paints a circle around a particular Pokemon and then puts a dot in the middle of that circle to simulate a target of sorts, because this is the attack that’s always been picked up by the competitive scene whenever it shows up. And to be fair, this is the largest HP pool printed that has an Outrage attack, and dealing 2-for-30 with an additional 10 damage for every counter on Reshiram & Charizard-GX would probably do it for a lot of people. Flare Strike carries that famous Charizard spice of a big 4-for-230 move that you can’t use on your next turn when you use it, and Double Blaze GX is a 3-for-200 that, if you have 3 more Fire Energy in addition to the cost, does another 100 damage and is unaffected by effects on the Defending Pokemon.
So yeah, that is a lot to digest there, but let’s break it down. There are at least 2 big attacks on the card, and the third one is Outrage. Offensively, Reshiram & Charizard-GX looks terrifying. It can hit hard, it can hit really hard with a lot of Energy, it can hit even harder and be effectively unblockable, and if you hit it back, it can hit you even harder than that constantly. It makes for a tough match-up, but the biggest weakness – outside of the Water printed on it – is how Fire decks could accelerate that Energy. At least, that’s the sort of question that would come up, if it weren’t for our #6 pick Welder, who can immediately attach 2 Fire Energy to Reshiram & Charizard-GX, and on top of that it draws 3 new cards to help further draw support for accelerating Energy. Throw in Kiawe, who can immediately power them up to full with just one play, and Fiery Flint, which simultaneously thins the deck and fuels Welder for a play, and you can see why this deck’s been doing so well.
Needless to say, it makes for a somewhat circumstantial but overall consistent deck that’s currently tearing up the Japanese countryside. Unfortunately, the natural counter to the Fire Type – Water, obviously – isn’t really as impactful at the moment. There’s not really a Water deck that’s been present in the competitive scene, and no, Magikarp & Wailord-GX “Wall Stall” doesn’t count when Reshiram & Charizard-GX can put out damage like the forest is overgrown and the oceans are flooding inland. So decks are going to have to come up with other ways of stopping the explosive output that this deck can have. Usually this starts with the Supporters, which if I recall there may be some cards in Standard that can deal with Supporters specifically…
As the game shifts, we’re bound to discover a few counters to this deck that will prove effective, but perhaps the biggest question is why didn’t this make the cut in our own list? Personally, I think it’s hard to set-up Reshiram & Charizard-GX if you don’t have at least Kiawe and/or Welder with Fiery Flint. It does seem like, out of a possible 12 cards out of a 60-card deck, you’re more than likely to have one of these in hand with a copy of Reshiram & Charizard-GX, and if you run enough Fire Energy, it won’t matter if a couple end up in your hand, so long as you can use a few of them for Welder or Kiawe! But throwing all that together, that’s about half the deck right there, so what do you do with the other half in Standard? This is the part that bugs me about it so far, though I didn’t even get that far while I was making my own list.
All I know is Lucario & Melmetal-GX decks cry molten steel tears as they melt before Reshiram & Charizard-GX’s flames.
Standard: 4/5 (it’s hard to argue the massive success and the fantastic support these guys have right now)
Expanded: 4.5/5 (having an instant “flame on” card even available to them is a huge plus)
Limited: 4/5 (if you get Welder and this, you’re pretty much solid)
Arora Notealus: I will say that, at the moment, it does look like Kiawe may rotate out later this year; there’s not another English copy that’s made it into more recent sets, as far as I know. There is at least one more set that’s set to become legal right after rotation hits – keeping in mind the protocol for sets becoming competitively legal is on the 3rd Friday of the month – and there’s always the possibility that, combined with rotation, a new deck archetype could spring up overnight and take Worlds by storm. But for now at least, Reshiram & Charizard-GX does look to be a solid pick for the long haul until then, with losing only as many as 4 cards in their deck hardly making much of a difference.
Next Time: For when you really need that extra boost of Energy!
We’ve finished counting down the top 11 from the latest expansion… so now what? SM – Unbroken Bonds was a massive 214 card set (before counting Secret Rares), and even though not all of those cards were unique, there are many left to look at… including some that just maybe should have made our countdown. We’ll begin with a card I kept mentioning in last week’s countdown: Reshiram & Charizard-GX (SM – Unbroken Bonds 20/214, 194/214, 217/214). To begin with, it is a Tag Team Pokémon: everything that applies to Pokémon-GX like improved HP, improved effects (including a GX-attack), and card effects that specify them (both helpful and hurtful) but instead of giving up two Prizes when KO’d, they give up three! Oh, and Snorlax (SM – Unbroken Bonds 158/214) means we finally have a Tag Team-specific counter, though we’ll have to see whether it actually matters. All Tag Team Pokémon are Basics, regardless of the Stages of their “component” Pokémon. This means Reshiram & Charizard-GX is fast to the field, requires minimal deck space, can function as an opening Active (sometimes that can backfire) and is better able to utilize certain effects (like bounce). There are effects that help and punish a Pokémon for being a Basic, but thanks to everything else, it is still a massive net positive for this card.
The same can almost be said for being a [R] Type. Nothing naturally resists [R] Types, but almost all [G] and [M] Pokémon are [R] Weak. While there are anti-[R] Type effects, they’re just nuisances (if they show up at all). [R] support is just good, whether we’re talking about useful [R] Pokémon, effects that benefit [R] Pokémon, or effects that benefit [R] Energy. Blacksmith (in Expanded), Fire Crystal, Flint, and Welder are all fantastic options to have. 270 HP is also fantastic to have; this is the second highest printed on anything, making Reshiram & Charizard-GX difficult to OHKO unless you’re exploiting Weakness, in which case it still isn’t automatic. Said Weakness is to [W] Types, and while no Weakness is good, there are worse ones to have right now. Lack of Resistance is the worst, though, but also quite typical. The Retreat Cost of [CCC] is chunky, and as we’ll see, but something else about this card will give you a reason to run additional “switching” effects.
Reshiram & Charizard-GX have three attacks. Up first is “Outrage” for [RC]. This attack does 30 damage plus 10 per damage counter on Reshiram & Charizard-GX. The Energy requirement isn’t bad, but only because of Welder (plus a few other options in Expanded). The more injured Reshiram & Charizard-GX is, the harder it can hit – 290 when down to 10 HP, and before other effects – but also the less likely Reshiram & Charizard-GX is to survive through your opponent’s next turn. Which is really bad when you’re a Tag Team Pokémon worth three Prizes when KO’d, and (based on how others have been used) inclined to use cards like Acerola and Max Potion to avoid that fate. Outrage is thus best used when you don’t have to fear the retaliatory KO and (of course) prefer not to use one of the card’s other attacks. Based on what little firsthand experience I’ve got with the card, which has been on the receiving end, Outrage actually makes for a good finisher, but I also have to point out that all the other Pokémon in Expanded or Standard with Outrage can use it for [CC], and still doing 20+ damage. Their maximum damage is capped by their lower HP scores, but they’re also worth only one or two Prizes and not three.
[RRRC] lets Reshiram & Charizard-GX attack with “Flare Strike”, doing 230 damage but placing an effect on itself that prevents it from using Flare Strike the next turn. Such an effect will usually require you work around it, but it is worth the hassle; 230 takes out anything that isn’t boosted, protected, or among the larger Pokémon-EX/GX. The pricing is a tad awkward; you’ll need more than just your manual Energy attachment for the turn PLUS a double attachment off of Welder. This isn’t far from enough to ruin Flare Strike, but it is going to force you to work around it, probably more than the attack’s effect. There’s still the GX-attack: “Double Blaze-GX” requires [RRR] for its base form, or [RRRRRR] if you want to access its bonus effects. If you go the budget route, you’ll do 200 damage. A decent enough “damage bonus” for a GX-attack; you’re not OHKOing as much as you would with Flare Strike, but it is still a lot and CAN be accessed with a manual Energy attachment followed by a double attachment with Welder.
If you go the expensive route, you’ll need twice the turns or a lot more Energy acceleration; is the payout worth it? Double Blaze-GX will hit for an extra 100 damage (meaning 300 total) while ignoring all effects on your opponent’s Active Pokémon. While I think I have a decent understanding of what effects Double Blaze-GX can bypass, trying to explain it in a concise manner reminds me of how confusing it actually is. The attack will ignore the damage reduction from something like Choice Helmet but not the HP increase from Buff Padding because the latter doesn’t change the damage being done, just how much the equipped Pokémon can take. Something that keeps a Pokémon from attacking, or alters how its attack works, can also still save a target, like Confusion or the “Disgusting Pollen” Ability found on Vileplume (SM – Burning Shadows 6/147). My real concern, though, is that too often, you won’t need both bonus effects, but you’ll still have to cough up the full [RRRRRR] to use it.
I haven’t painted a very bright picture of Reshiram & Charizard-GX, and if you’re thinking that is because it is actually a really great card but I was getting the negatives out of the way, you’re right. For a moment, it looked like I was a step behind the metagame. PokéStats had the Day 2 Standings, and while Reshiram & Charizard-GX decks were six out of 47 decks, four of those were clustered near the bottom with the highest only being in 5th place. Thanks to Limitless we know the top eight, including their decks (but not full decklists). In the end, first and second place went to Reshiram & Charizard-GX decks. Immediately below it was two Zapdos (SM – Team Up 40/181; SM – Black Star Promos SM159) variants that did not include Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, then two Shedinja (SM – Lost Thunder 95/214) Control decks with a Vileplume (SM – Burning Shadows 6/147) Stall deck between them, and finally two Pikachu & Zekrom-GX decks. Not quite what we expected based on results from the equivalent period in Japan, but pretty close. Though they didn’t make it into the top eight, there were several Quagsire (Dragon Majesty 26/70)/Naganadel decks going strong into Day 2.
Of course, one major tournament with 470 Masters Division players… so how about another with 501 Masters? The Sao Paulo, Brazil top eight is also available, though again we lack full decklists for most of these. Reshiram & Charizard-GX still snagged first place, but second through fourth were Zoroark-GX/Persian-GX variants, fifth was Zapdos, sixth was another Reshiram & Charizard-GX deck, seventh was Zoroark-GX/Dewgong (SM – Unbroken Bonds 45/214), and eighth place was a Weezing (SM – Unbroken Bonds 74/214). Some of these were kicking around when Day 2 began for Santa Clara, as well as representatives of expected new and previously established decks. As such, things are most definitely still up in the air… and even exactly how to best approach Reshiram & Charizard-GX is as well. Some builds use Volcanion (SM – Unbroken Bonds 25/214; SM – Black Star Promos SM179) as an opener, some try for an early-game Kiawe, and there are probably other variants to consider as well (I just haven’t seen their lists). What the lists we do have share in common are Fire Crystal and Welder. That’s right, not even Fiery Flint is guaranteed.
I cannot give you the exact list you ought to be running for Standard, but I can tell you that Reshiram & Charizard-GX is one of the new decks to beat, maybe even the one. What about Expanded? The aggressive decks are faster and/or harder hitting, the stall and/or control decks are even better at their locks, but Reshiram & Charizard-GX is still pretty amazing. I think it will boil down to how popular [W] decks are at a given time. When a deck like Blastoise (BW – Boundaries Crossed 31/149; BW – Plasma Storm 137/135; SM – Plasma Blast 16/101) decks (specifically Archie’s Blastoise) is popular, it is hard to see how Reshiram & Charizard-GX could top cut, let alone win a tournament. When they’re scarce, though… yeah, still a struggle, but one that Reshiram & Charizard-GX could actually win. As for the Limited Format, yes, go ahead and run Reshiram & Charizard-GX if you pull it. There is a good chunk of [W] in this set, even relative to the sets massive size, but all the stuff that seems like a huge threat (as opposed to just a big or regular-sized threat) are Rare or higher AND Evolutions. Thanks to Outrage and 270 HP, I’m thinking Reshiram & Charizard-GX could be run in a +39 (a.k.a. Mulligan) build.
Reshiram & Charizard-GX is a fantastic new beast, the face of a new strong deck. Unless you expect you will never wish to run that deck, you need to pick up three or four copies ASAP. Part of me is very sorry this card didn’t make our Top 11. If we’d done a larger countdown, Reshiram & Charizard-GX would have been our 15th place pick… and out of a 214 card set, that’s still really, really good! It was my 5th place pick: for has massive as it is (with respect to the metagame), that is only in its own archetype and only because of great [R] support like Welder.
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