Is Charizard ex the new Zoroark GX? | Pokémon


If you’ve played Pokémon for a while (or any TCG, for the purpose of this article), I am sure you can easily name an iconic card that was played either because of ist outstanding attack power, or one that is legendary for its  strong or even broken ability. The release of a card that combines both is thus a rare thing to witness.

A while ago, I wrote an article talking about the versatility of Zoroark GX (Sun & Moon era, 2017-2019) and how it became one of the most powerful cards I can remember because of the number of plays and strategies it enabled. It was a very rare case of a card that was both a draw engine and an attacker, a combination that is very unusual to find.

Looking at the state of our current metagame (Twilight Masquerade, 2024), I suddenly had a déjà vu. Because we are having a bit of a similar situation with another well-known and popular darkness-type Pokémon: Charizard ex.

 

Charizard ex: More than an attacker | Pokémon

It's probably not breaking news for anyone that Charizard has become one of the most powerful cards to be printed in the Scarlet & Violet era. But with every new set or expansion, it seems to only get better and better. And until Pokémon decides to print a generic grass-type attacker (similar to what they did with Drapion V and Mew VMAX), Charizard is going to continue dominating the game.

The thing is that I am not only referring to the typical Charizard build, where you basically evolve Charizard after Charizard until you win the game by pure aggression. Charizard is such an interesting and versatile card that has the capability to be combined with almost everything and be both an attacker and a support at the same time. Let me explain this concept a little bit.

When Charizard ex hits the field, it immediately triggers an ability which allows you to attach up to three fire energies from your deck to your Pokémon in play. This is precisely one of the most incredible moves that the deck has, because you literally don’t need to worry about energies, just make sure you have a couple of Charizards in your deck and you are good to go. In a straight Charizard ex build, it normally means that you are going to be using the ability to power up your multiple copies of Charizard during the entire game. Sometimes, depending on your luck or your board, you might want to power up something different like a Charmander or even a Pidgeot, but these situations are not that common.

The following is an example of a "standard" Charizard build that, as explained above, focuses on attacking with Charizard ex over and over.

Pokémon (20)

4 Charmander OBF 26
1 Charmeleon PAF 8
3 Charizard ex PAF 54
2 Pidgey MEW 16
2 Pidgeot ex OBF 164
1 Radiant Charizard CRZ 20
1 Bidoof CRZ 111
1 Bibarel BRS 121
1 Rotom V CRZ 45
1 Lumineon V BRS 40
1 Cleffa OBF 80
1 Manaphy BRS 41
1 Jirachi PAR 126


Energy (6)

6 Fire Energy 2


1st Place EUIC 2024, London - Tord Reklev

Trainer (34)

3 Arven OBF 186
3 Iono PAF 80
2 Boss's Orders PAL 172
2 Professor Turo's Scenario PAR 171
1 Roxanne ASR 150
1 Team Yell's Cheer BRS 149
4 Rare Candy PAF 89
4 Ultra Ball PAF 91
4 Buddy-Buddy Poffin TEF 144
2 Super Rod PAL 188
1 Nest Ball PAF 84
1 Counter Catcher PAR 160
1 Prime Catcher TEF 157
1 Lost Vacuum CRZ 135
1 Forest Seal Stone SIT 156
1 Choice Belt PAL 176
1 Defiance Band SVI 169
1 Collapsed Stadium BRS 137

For some time, I assumed that Charizard was always going to be played like thisuntil I started to realize that the ability was so good that it could enable other strategies. In fact, it was so good that it could be played just to accelerate energy. And if you take a look at some builds, this is exactly what has been happening for a while.

Charizard ex: Attaching energies without limits | Pokémon

There are certain decks that really struggle keeping up with the pace of the format. I was a believer of Dragapult ex which, according to the metagame in Japan, was going to be incredibly powerful, but has proven to be inconsistent after a few days of testing. The problem is not Dragapult on its own, it's the fact that it requires two manual attachments. Some players have tried to solve it using Xatu, but it is more challenging than you might think. This is my current Xatu/Dragapult deck:

Pokémon (19)

1 Rotom V LOR 176
3 Drakloak TWM 129
1 Lumineon V BRS 40
4 Dreepy TWM 128
2 Xatu PAR 72
1 Drakloak TWM 129 PH
2 Natu PAR 71
1 Tatsugiri TWM 186
1 Radiant Alakazam SIT 59
3 Dragapult ex TWM 130


Energy (9)

4 Basic {R} Energy EVO 92 PH
5 Basic {P} Energy EVO 95 PH

Trainer (32)

1 Counter Catcher PAR 160
1 Forest Seal Stone SIT 156
1 Energy Retrieval SVI 171
1 Prime Catcher TEF 157
1 Rescue Board TEF 159
2 Nest Ball SVI 181
2 Boss's Orders PAL 172
3 Iono PAL 185
4 Arven SVI 166
1 Technical Machine: Devolution PAR 177
1 Technical Machine: Evolution PAR 178
1 Super Rod PAL 188
1 Collapsed Stadium BRS 137
4 Buddy-Buddy Poffin TEF 144
3 Ultra Ball SVI 196
1 Switch SVI 194
2 Rare Candy SVI 191
2 Earthen Vessel PAR 163

It still has challenges maintaining a steady flow of energies. And what is the solution that players have found for that? Combining it with either Lost Box (which makes a lot of sense) or Charizard ex!

Just like that, the problem that the deck suffers from is no longer there. True that you might struggle to correctly set up during the game because you are running a lot of different pieces, but as soon as you evolve one Charizard, you can forget about all your issuesbecause you suddenly have three energies in play! From that point on, it is just a matter of attaching manually to keep sending attackers.

While we wait for Twilight Masquerade to become legal in tournaments, we have seen people experimenting with this idea of Charizard and other attackers. The first time that I saw it being paired up with Greninja ex I was surprised for a moment, until I remember that Tord Reklev himself had gotten Top 4 at Utrecht with this list earlier during the year:

Pokémon (22)

1 Charmander PAF 7
1 Charmander OBF 26
2 Charizard ex PAF 54
1 Pidgey MEW 16
1 Pidgeot ex OBF 164
1 Bidoof CRZ 111
1 Bibarel BRS 121
1 Rapid Strike Urshifu V BST 87
1 Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX BST 88
1 Sobble CRE 41
1 Inteleon CRE 43
1 Medicham V EVS 83
1 Radiant Charizard CRZ 20
1 Rotom V CRZ 45
1 Lumineon V BRS 40
1 Squawkabilly ex PAF 75
1 Skwovet SVI 151
1 Mew CEL 11
1 Manaphy BRS 41
1 Jirachi PAR 126
1 Mawile LOR 71


Energy (7)

5 Fire Energy 2
1 Rapid Strike Energy BST 140
1 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151

Trainer (31)

2 Iono PAF 80
1 Arven OBF 186
1 Worker SIT 167
1 Avery CRE 130
1 Raihan CRZ 140
1 Boss's Orders PAL 172
1 Thorton LOR 167
1 Professor Turo's Scenario PAR 171
1 Peonia CRE 149
4 Rare Candy PAF 89
4 Ultra Ball PAF 91
4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
2 Super Rod PAL 188
2 Pal Pad SVI 182
1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
1 Counter Catcher PAR 160
1 Forest Seal Stone SIT 156
1 Collapsed Stadium BRS 137
1 Artazon PAF 76

One of the cool plays that this deck allowed was to use Rapid Strike Urshifu’s attack without needing to wait for two turns. Charizard ex gave Urshifu the energies it needed to hit the bench and possibly take the opponent by surprise.

Charizard ex: Play it aggro, play it with control! | Pokémon

The last thing I want to mention is that Charizard’s strength is such that it can be included in literally every deck of the format and that it will make the difference.

The following list is what won in LA just a few months ago. And yes, it is a control list.

Pokémon (18)

2 Pidgey MEW 16
2 Pidgeot ex OBF 164
1 Charmander OBF 26
1 Charizard ex PAF 54
1 Radiant Charizard CRZ 20
1 Entei V BRS 22
1 Chi-Yu ex PAL 40
1 Luxray V ASR 50
1 Rotom V CRZ 45
1 Lumineon V BRS 40
1 Cleffa OBF 80
1 Mimikyu PAF 37
1 Mawile LOR 71
1 Regieleki ASR 51
1 Sandshrew MEW 27
1 Manaphy BRS 41


Energy (6)

4 Fire Energy 2
1 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151
1 Mist Energy TEF 161

1st Place Regional Los Angeles, CA - Lucas Xing

Trainer (36)

4 Arven OBF 186
3 Penny SVI 183
1 Eri TEF 146
1 Iono PAF 80
1 Boss's Orders PAL 172
1 Thorton LOR 167
4 Ultra Ball PAF 91
3 Nest Ball PAF 84
3 Rare Candy PAF 89
3 Counter Catcher PAR 160
2 Buddy-Buddy Poffin TEF 144
2 Pal Pad SVI 182
1 Super Rod PAL 188
1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
1 Lost Vacuum CRZ 135
1 Hero's Cape TEF 152
1 Bravery Charm PAL 173
1 Defiance Band SVI 169
1 Defiance Vest PAR 162
1 Forest Seal Stone SIT 156

Even if one might think that playing just one copy of Charizard is not a lot, the reality is that its presence is not just testimonial. It enables other Pokémon to attack easier (or earlier) and it played a pivotal role in the finals, where it won the game on its own in a very epic final turn.   

What are the best sleeves for Charizard? I don’t have a doubt: Red or Orange, for sure! Why? Well, because Charizard originally is that color and I think it just fits so well with the black card!

So, in conclusion, after seeing all these Charizard variants and how they are played, I think we can agree that even if they are not the same cards, Zoroark GX and Charizard have a lot in common: they are both attackers and enablers, which is why they will prevail in the player base memory as some of the most powerful cards ever printed.

Author: Elena (Gaia Storm)

Elena has been playing Pokémon Trading Card Game since 2011 and has never stopped. With her partner, she runs Gaia Storm, one of the largest Pokémon TCG Youtube channels in the world. She has a problem remembering the names of all the Pokémon but tends to open the most broken Pokémon packs.