Written by Zach Lesage on 9/15/2023 at category Top Cards
A Throwback to Kanto
What’s poppin’ PTCGL Store readers? Are you as hyped as I am for Pokemon 151 - the newest Pokemon TCG set? If you’ve been too busy testing with the best decks from Paldea Evolved and Obsidian Flames, you might’ve missed it! Pokemon 151 is a special subset releasing in September 2023 that contains all of the original 151 Pokemon as well as some classic Pokemon trainers from that era! Pokemon 151 is obviously designed to pull the heartstrings of the community that have been collecting Pokemon since the 90s, but there certainly are some cool cards in this set for players too! In this article, I’ll share my top 5 Pokemon ex cards from the set, share some strategies, and jump on the Kanto nostalgia train! If you wanna pick up some codes for this set, and you should use code zlesage5 to save 5% at the PTCGL Store! Not only does it help support me, but it will help boost your online Pokemon TCG Live collection too! Now let’s jump into my number 5 pick!
5. Arbok ex
You might be wondering why I’m kicking this list off with Arbok ex [Pokemon 151], and there is definitely potential for a control deck with some aspects from this card. While Bind Down is an interesting attack that can stop your opponent from Retreating, I’m only really looking at Menacing Fangs. 150 damage for three Darkness Energy is usually a terrible attack cost nowadays, but the side text is where it's at! Your opponent is forced into discarding two cards from their hand! Lemme explain why that can be good… In a world filled with Iono [Paldea Evolved] and Roxanne [Astral Radiance], you can definitely put your opponent in a zero-hand position. If you plan your whole game around a well-timed Roxanne + Menacing Fangs, then you can put your opponent down to a zero-card hand, aka top deck mode.
You can layer this with other disruption cards like Crushing Hammer [Scarlet and Violet], Path to the Peak [Chilling Reign], and even Boss’s Orders [Paldea Evolved]. I haven’t necessarily pieced together a deck or anything like that, but I see the potential there, at least. It also helps that Dark Patch [Astral Radiance] is a great way to power up Arbok ex quickly. I’m sure if I searched deeper into my collection that I could find other useful cards to pair with Arbok ex to at least attempt to build a cook deck! I do want to point out that most other Pokemon ex below Arbok ex aren’t going to generally be more than collectables (at least for now) because this set is aimed towards collectors more than players. Sure, it might be cool to heal with Venusaur ex [Pokemon 151], giving Wigglytuff ex [Pokemon 151] 350 HP by attaching a Special Energy, or even scoring an OHKO with Jynx ex [Pokemon 151] by using Ba-Dum Kiss, but I see the potential in Arbok ex. If I got my early list “wrong” a little bit, I’m ok with it.
4. Alakazam ex
Alakazam?!?! Yeah, you read that right! Alakazam is back in the TCG (and Kadabra is, too), and this time the form is the mighty Alakazam ex [Pokemon 151]. To add some context to why this is a huge deal, there was a magician in the 90s who thought his likeness to Kadabra was uncanny, and he ended up stopping Pokemon from printing Kadabra for a while. Over the 20+ years since that happened, Alakazam has had many weird mechanics that have allowed it to exist, but they typically involved ways of skipping Abra and Kadabra. Most recently, that has been Alakazam V [Vivid Voltage] and Radiant Alakazam [Silver Tempest] because both of those are Basic Pokemon. Now we have the nostalgic option to Evolve our Abra [Pokemon 151] into Kadabra [Pokemon 151] into Alakazam ex, even though we’ll probably use this one with a Rare Candy [Scarlet and Violet] to jump right to Alakazam ex.
Enough with me being a Pokemon TCG historian. I think Alakazam ex is an interesting Pokemon for its Dimensional Manipulation attack. Is 120 damage on a Stage 2 Pokemon ex for two Psychic Energy any good? If that's all it was, it would be with the rest of the cool-looking Pokemon ex that didn’t make this list. We can decide to attack from the Bench if we decide to do so, and that makes it interesting. Why would that be good? Well, we can hide behind any Pokemon we want, and that gives us nearly endless options. Glimora [Paldea Evolved] is a spicy one because you can force your opponent to have a Boss’s Orders to bring up Alakazam ex or face Glimora’s Shattering Crystal Ability. There are so many cool “wall” Pokemon to choose from, and I could see Alakazam ex working in the right deck.
3. Charizard ex
It's a Charizard! A CHARIZARD! Not only did we get the Darkness Tera-type Charizard ex [Obsidian Flames] in our last set, but here is a Fire-type Charizard ex [Pokemon 151] for the nostalgia overload! I do wanna be clear that I am not a collector of shiny cardboard, and I am a player first and foremost, so this Charizard ex is actually playable! While my other two choices had quite inefficient attacks, Charizard ex is actually quite different here! Brave Wing allows you to hit for 60 damage + an additional 100 damage if there are any damage counters on it. 160 damage for a single Energy attack is fantastic, and this is a great 2HKO move. You can easily get a damage counter on your Charizard ex by using Magma Basin [Brilliant Stars] to accelerate Energy to it and placing two damage counters on it by doing that effect.
The other attack, Explosive Vortex, swings for a massive 330 damage but comes at the cost of discarding 3 Energy from Charizard ex. You might be able to power it up with Charizard ex [Obsidian Flames] or even Charizard [Pokemon Go] to make the attack a little easier to use. This Charizard ex might bring back the often-forgotten powerful Fire-type archetype from the depths of binders, and I’m here for it! I’ve seen a lot of success with Blacephalon-GX [Lost Thunder] and Reshiram & Charizard-GX [Unbroken Bonds] in the past, so I’ve been patiently waiting for a card like this!
2. Blastoise ex
The debate is over. Blastoise is officially better than Charizard. Okay, those are fighting words, but I do think Blastoise ex [Pokemon 151] is better than Charizard ex right now. Lemme explain why! Blastoise Ex is absolutely a tank because it has 330 HP, but it also has its Solid Shell Ability that reduces its damage taken by 30. That alone means you need to do 360 damage to OHKO this big turtle Pokemon! On top of that, it has a powerful attack that can OHKO quite a few Pokemon! Twin Cannons does 140 damage for each Water Energy that you discard from your hand! That can be a solid 280 damage which is enough to KO most Pokemon VSTAR in format, like Arceus VSTAR [Brilliant Stars]!
I could see Blastoise ex pairing well with Chien-Pao ex [Paldea Evolved] because you can easily search for two Water Energy with its Ability to discard with Twin Cannons. Raihan [Evolving Skies] is another great card to pair with Blastoise ex because you can accelerate one of the two necessary Water Energy to attack and nab a Rare Candy to Evolve quicker. The deck starts writing itself at that point after adding a bunch of Water Energy, the standard mix of Ultra Ball / Nest Ball [Scarlet and Violet], and Supporters. Blastoise ex is too well-rounded to be bad, so it has to be good!
1. Mew ex
I’m not sure why the game designers make almost every Mew playable, but I’m not complaining! Mew ex [Pokemon 151] is the best Pokémon ex in Pokémon 151! There are a lot of great things going for this card immediately, such as being a Basic Pokémon (so you don’t need to waste time Evolving] and a free Retreat, and there is more! Of course, there is more… Having any kind of draw is great. Even a weaker draw one Ability like Raikou ex [Brilliant Stars] and Mew ex will take the bonus of having the Restart Ability! I’m sure I can use cards like Ultra Ball and Lost Vacuum [Lost Origin] to reduce my hand size to net a few extra cards per turn.
Where Mew ex really shines is its Genome Hack Ability! For a simple three Colorless Energy, you can copy one of your opponent's attacks from their Active Pokémon. So even if Charizard ex’s 330 damage for a bunch of Fire Energy, Mew ex can copy it for three Colorless Energy. Lugia VSTAR [Silver Tempest] will certainly love to have a new Pokémon to power up with Archeops [Silver Tempest], and I’m sure that’s only scratching the surface! Oh yeah, any deck that runs Baxcalibur [Paldea Evolved] too! I’m sure Energy acceleration will continue to be a powerful strategy in competitive Pokémon TCG, and that will always make Mew ex, the best Pokémon ex from Pokémon 151, a valid choice! The other thing that makes Mew ex amazing is that players typically love to play with powerful Pokémon that have powerful attacks. Considering Mew ex is only as relevant as the metagame, it is fantastic that you can match the attack of any deck you face! This opens endless options during gameplay and will make your opponent sweat out each Boss’s Orders [Paldea Evolved] that you play!
Time to Start Testing
I’m not sure if I’m the only one, but I get so amped up whenever there is a new set release because there are so many new cards to try out! Some might not like the added work of testing, but I find a sense of accomplishment by pulling off a new strategy! There are so many viable cards in this set and maybe some of the other Pokemon ex will surprise me too! What do you think about Pokemon 151? Is it gonna change the game? Are there any cards that you are looking forward to? Lemme know! Oh, and if you need some codes for this set (or any set), you can use code zlesage5 at the PTCGL store! I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and I’ll catch up with you soon for some more awesome Pokemon TCG content!
About the Writer
Zach Lesage is a contributing writer for PTCGLStore.com. As a Toronto local, he has been playing the Pokemon Trading Card Game since 2005 and creates Pokemon content as his full time career. With multiple prestigious accomplishments in the game, such as the 2020 Players Cup 2 Champion and 2020 Oceania International Championships Finalist, he has proven his success in the game. Outside of the game, he travels the world, enjoys the culture of designer streetwear, and is a professionally trained chef. You can catch him at most Pokemon events and follow him on Twitter @ZachLesagePTCG.