Fabulous Fire: First Takes on Charizard EX

Charizard-charizard-23794476-757-582It’s been getting really hot out over here lately. Some of this is due to summer quickly approaching, but I think part of the new heat is that I’ve been hanging out with Charizard for most of the weekend.

Today’s article is going to be completely devoted to our favorite fiery lizard, Charizard. In particular, I am going to be looking at the Combustion Blast Charizard EX that came in Flash Fire. I think the Stoke Charizard may have some potential, but the Combustion Blast one seems to be by far the strongest Charizard in the set, and the only one you can really create a deck solely around.

The lists in this article are not finished products by any means, but I think I have the concept for each of them headed into the right direction. As is natural with a new deck, with no former basis for such a deck, the lists will surely be improved upon over the next couple of months.

Examining the Fire Engine

Before we look at Charizard EX and his new decks, I first want to take a look at the two cards that compose the new Fire Engine, a pair of Trainer cards released in Flash Fire.

BlacksmithFlashfire88The first is Blacksmith, a Supporter card that lets you attach two Fire Energy from your discard pile to one of your Fire Pokemon. This is a great form of Energy Acceleration, and any turn that you Blacksmith for two cards as well as make a manual attachment will mean attacking with one of your strong Fire attackers.

The issue with Blacksmith is that it takes your Supporter for a turn, which means you won’t be able to use another Supporter turn to search your deck or draw more cards. This is a limiting factor to be sure and must be built around.

The other Fire Trainer card in this set is Fiery Torch, which lets you draw 2 cards when you discard a Fire Energy. This card is pretty bad overall as you’re trading 2 cards for 2 cards, at which point the question begs to be asked, would I be better off just running a more useful card in place of Fiery Torch? I haven’t fully answered this question yet, but the card works decently in conjunction with Blacksmith, getting Fire Energy into your discard pile to be Blacksmithed to one of your Pokemon.

Speed Charizard

The first Charizard deck I want to look at is a speed version of the deck, aimed solely at setting up a fast Charizard and drawing through your deck to setup more Charizard as the game goes on. Here is the list for this version of the deck:

Pokemon – 13

4 Charizard EX
1 Entei EX
2 Pikachu XY
2 Raichu XY
2 Voltorb XY
2 Electrode PLF

Trainers – 36

4 Blacksmith

2 Random Receiver
4 Fiery Torch
4 Bicycle
2 Roller Skates
1 Pal Pad

1 Computer Search

4 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
2 Professors Letter
3 Hypnotoxic Laser
2 Pokemon Catcher
1 Escape Rope

4 Muscle Band

Energy – 11

7 Fire
4 Double Colorless

This is a bit different from many decks you will see. The deck only plays 4 Supporters, all of which are Blacksmith, which means no draw supporters in the deck. While the deck doesn’t play any draw Supporters, it does have draw. It plays 10 Item cards that can be used to draw cards, as well as Computer Search to search one of those out.

Additionally, the deck plays a 2-2 Electrode line to help you draw through your deck. You will start with a Fire EX in your opening hand more often than not, so your first emphasis in searching you deck with your balls should be to get out the Electrode line. With Electrode on the field, the deck flows a lot better. The deck can certainly run okay without Electrode on the field, but you are under a lot less pressure to draw well when you do have Electrode in play.

CharizardEXFlashfire12The main attacker in the deck is Charizard EX, which for [R][R][C][C] does 150 damage with its Combustion Blast attack, with the stipulation that you can’t use Combustion Blast on your next turn. With a Double Colorless attachment and a successful Blacksmith you can power up a Charizard in one turn. You can boost the damage of Combustion Blast to 170 with a Muscle Band and up to 180 with Hypnotoxic Laser, making it a very potent attack. Computer Search gives you a 5th out to getting the Double Colorless Energy.

The deck also plays Raichu in it. The deck has a major problem with Yveltal EX, as Evil Ball will easily knockout a fully powered Charizard EX. Additionally, Raichu serves as a counter to your opponent’s counters to the main Pokemon in the deck, being able to knockout Suicune, Sigilyph, and Pyroar in one hit.

entei-ex-dark-explorers-dex-13I play one copy of Entei EX as it gives you another option when you prize badly with your Charizard EX as well as another Energy Acceleration option. It actually fits in nicely in the deck, giving you a good option to go to against Stage 1’s. Combustion Blast is overkill and can’t be used during consecutive turns, while Grand Flame can be used every turn, and with Muscle Band it will swing for 110, enough to knockout a lot of the Pokemon you won’t want to use Combustion Blast on.

The deck is really light on Switching options, and that’s just because they’re not overly needed. Charizard EX and Entei EX can be accelerated to in the active position, Raichu has free retreat, and Voltorb, Electrode, and Pikachu all only have one retreat cost. You might think you want something to continuously loop Combustion Blast, but often enough, you can just retreat into another Charizard EX, use Blacksmith, and then attack with that.

I was unsure of how many Pal Pad would be needed in the deck going in, but one has proved to be the right number. You don’t usually need more than 4 Blacksmith in a game, but it’s good to play Pal Pad just for those cases where you need to discard too many Blacksmith early with Ultra Ball or Computer Search.

One issue this version of the deck has is that you have no disruption as you don’t play N. You could play Red Card in here, but that’s pretty lackluster and you don’t really have room for a lot of those, and the space is probably better used elsewhere. So if you fall behind too much, you probably won’t win that game. With this deck, you just try to overpower your opponent early and just never let them keep up.

Some tech options for the deck are Max Potion and Druddigon. Max Potion can work to clean the damage off of a Charizard EX, and then with Blacksmith, you can instantly power up that same Charizard EX. I think the format is still too full of OHKO’s to make Max Potion worth it.

Druddigon is there as an attacking option for meta games when Blastoise and Emboar are big. Ideally, to beat those two decks you would just get the first knockout on an EX, and then stream Charizard EX’s the rest of the game to win.

Surprise Megaphone might be worth the inclusion of a one-of to turn back on Magnetic Draw for a turn against Garbodor decks, as well as get rid of Muscle Band on Pokemon to try to preserve a Charizard. I don’t think the Garbodor matchup is poor enough, or that Megaphone would make any type of substantial difference when you can’t search it out to be worthy of inclusion.

This version of the deck will have more trouble than the others with some small meta changes. If players choose to play Ghetsis, it can be shutdown completely. Luckily players seem adverse to playing Ghetsis in their decks. Additionally, the deck doesn’t provide many good answers to beating Trevenant/Accelgor other than just outspeeding it.

Magnezone/Delphox

The second build of Charizard EX is built with the same general strategy, but it is built conceptually different to give the deck more versatility. Here is the list for this version of the deck.

Pokemon – 14

3 Charizard EX
2 Pikachu XY
2 Raichu XY
2 Magnemite PLS
2 Magnezone PLS
1 Fennekin XY
1 Delphox XY
1 Jirachi EX

Trainers – 36

2 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
4 Blacksmith
1 Pal Pad

4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
3 Rare Candy
2 Escape Rope
2 Hypnotoxic Laser
1 Professors Letter
1 Super Rod
1 Surprise Megaphone

3 Muscle Band

1 Dowsing Machine

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

6 Fire
4 Double Colorless

While the previous version of the deck went for a more aggressive start, this one can be classified as more of a setup deck. One interesting note for this deck is that it’s not really like other setup decks in the format, in that it can go off immediately if you get the right opening hand. Additionally, even though its very Ability reliant, it can still function in a lower form when you don’t get your setup or your Abilities are shutdown from Garbotoxin.

magnezone-plasma-storm-pls-46-312x429The first part of our setup is Magnezone PLS, whose Dual Brain Ability lets you use two Supporter cards during your turn. This is great for using an alternative Supporter as well as Blacksmith. You can use Blacksmith/Professor Juniper in conjunction to gain resources while setting up your Pokemon. You can use Skyla to search out Blacksmith and use it if that makes sense. You can disrupt your opponent with N, while still getting your Pokemon setting up. It’s very strong.

delphox-xy-26I also added in a 1-0-1 Delphox line, to give the deck some additional draw power. You don’t need more than one Magnezone on the field as its Ability doesn’t stack, so Delphox as an alternate Support Pokemon makes sense to give you more draw power with its Mystical Fire Ability, which lets you draw cards until you get 6. Delphox also provides you with an additional attacking option that can be Blacksmithed to.

When you have both Delphox and Magnezone on your field, you will almost never whiff anything you want to do with your turn. While two Stage 2’s may seem too difficult setup, Delphox and Magnezone are an interesting pair of partners. As both of their Abilities provide support for your setup, once you get one of them out, the one will help you get out the other.

As you’re playing Stage 2’s, Miltank is a legitimate attacker that you can put into the deck. It will swing for 80 with Powerful Friends for just one Energy when you have a Stage 2 out, and can go up to 100 with Muscle Band, which is good for such a lower energy investment.

Now a Stage 2 support for a Basic Pokemon deck isn’t too uncommon, Blastoise and Emboar are the same basic concept. Why would you play this over those two? One big reason is that Charizard EX doesn’t have the Dragon weakness that those two decks have, making it stronger if Druddigon is a major force in the meta game. Additionally, Charizard EX is less reliant on Abilities, giving it a stronger Garbodor matchup.

Charizard/Pyroar

The last version of the deck I have been testing is what has been the most talked about general build of the deck so far, which is pairing Charizard EX with Pyroar. The two have decent synergy, as Charizard EX will easily knockout any Evolved Pokemon for you, and your Pyroar won’t be able to be attacked by Basics.

Here is my list for this version of the deck:

Pokemon – 14

3 Charizard EX
1 M Charizard EX Y
2 Litleo FF18
2 Pyroar FF
2 Voltorb PLF
2 Electrode PLF
1 Sigilyph DRX
1 Mr. Mime PLF

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Blacksmith

2 Random Receiver
3 Fiery Torch
1 Pal Pad

4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
3 Hypnotoxic Laser
1 Professors Letter
1 Escape Rope
1 Switch
1 Super Rod

3 Muscle Band
1 Protect Cube

1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 11

7 Fire
4 Double Colorless

20-pyroarI built this version of the deck with the idea of walling in mind, with two pieces to that strategy. I have Sigilyph as an early and gap stop wall for when Pyroar isn’t out yet. Pyroar is your general wall, and it is quite good, as it shuts down all Basics from damaging it with attacks. If your opponent doesn’t play evolved Pokemon, they will lose most of the time.

As the deck plays so many wall Pokemon I felt this was an appropriate deck to play Mega Charizard EX in. I went with the Fire version, just because it can be Blacksmithed to, and played a single copy of Protect Cube. I’m not sure if this is the correct play compared to a Energy Retrieval, cutting a Fire for a Darkness Energy, and playing the Dragon version, but that one seems as if it would be too difficult to setup in this type of deck.

13-m-charizard-exIdeally, you would get your Mega Charizard EX setup and N your opponent in the turn you do it. That gives you more opportunity to sweep the game with it, especially against Yveltal EX decks, which still easily OHKO the Mega.

This version of the deck is probably the furthest from being a final list of the three. In particular, I think this version will need some options for dealing with Garbodor, which means probably playing Pokemon Catcher in the deck to Catcher KO it.

Conclusion

My early testing so far for Charizard EX has been fairly positive. I will say with a lot of confidence that the Combustion Blast Charizard EX packs enough strength to be a player in the meta game.

In particular, it gives us another counter to Virizion EX/Genesect EX decks. I think those decks will have a lot of difficulty dealing with Charizard EX decks, and will have to find some ways to deal with the deck, which I think the card pool is deep enough to make that happen.

I wouldn’t count Virizion out just because of Charizard either. Blastoise and Kyurem/Plasma decks can counter it well enough, in addition to Yveltal EX being decent enough against it. I think it’s strong enough to be a force in the meta, but there’s enough that will give it problems that Virizion should still be able to survive in the meta.

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