I was a child, in primary school, in 4th grade when I got my first Pokémon themed deck. I chose Brushfire, featuring the likes of Charmander the feisty Fire type Pokémon, Charmeleon, its feared evolution… But what’s this… no final evolution? And that’s where my Pokémon journey began, trying to find that powerful and ferocious final evolution. Determined to build a better, more powerful deck than my friends, I searched through booster packs until finally, FINALLY I saw a red bottom. I slowly slid the cards so that I could only see the bottom of that red, crispy fresh new card. My heart pounding, I slowly slid the rest of the pack upwards… Fire spin 100 damage… This was it! I slid the cards further up the card and in all its fiery glory, I


It’s been more than 20 years since that day. A feeling I’d never forget. This feeling was brought to me again by the latest expansion of Pokémon Sword and Shield 3: Darkness Ablaze – in the form of the first Vmax Charizard. The excitement around a new set FINALLY featuring a Vmax Charizard and several other powerful V’s and Vmax’s are sure to add some serious competition to the Pokémon TCG competition. And boy, oh boy is this going to do some damage.

To understand the latest expansion, Darkness Ablaze and all the powerful, heavy hitting V’s and Vmax’s and the impact they will have on the game, we must first look at a basic deck and its rules.

All cards from Sun and Moon to present (Darkness Ablaze) are allowed in tournament decks.

16-20 Pokémon including: At least 1 Basic starter Pokémon and no more than four copies of a card. (you would want evolutions of Pokémon for example:

• 3x Charmander
• 2x Charmeleon
• 2x Charizard 

You should also try to pick your deck according to 2-3 Pokémon types (E.g. fire / water / electric.)

26-30 Trainer / Supporter cards:
These cards allow you to perform special tasks and functions during your turn, an example would be Cape of Toughness which allows you to attach it to a Basic Pokémon and add an extra 50 hit points. 

And then some Energy cards for the rest, in order to power up your Pokémon and perform different attacks.

This creates a total battle deck of 60 cards.

So how do the cards from Darkness ablaze stack up? In a nutshell, dangerously. 

There are some seriously STRONG Pokémon. Enter Eternatus V and Vmax.

Eternatus Vmax has one of the hardest hitting moves in the current format of Pokémon TCG. Eternatus’s attack for 1 Dark and a Colorless energy does 30x for each dark type Pokémon you have in play, so with a field of 9 Dark type that is a total of 270 damage. Sure, you’d have to run a dark type deck to make this effective, but with those numbers and the score of powerful Dark type Pokémon featured in Darkness Ablaze there’s no surprise if you see many decks built around this card.

Thankfully Darkness Ablaze, the third expansion on Pokémon Sword and Shield, does have some defense against the dark arts to protect yourself from being “eter-minated”

A decent counter to this is a card called Decidueye and its Deep Forrest Camo ability which prevents all damage done by V and GX Pokémon attacks (not including effects). Add on the Trainer card Big Parasol which stops effects from Pokémon (only new effects not an existing effect) and you’ve got yourself a sweet little defense against the dark arts, buying you some valuable in game battle time to get your heavy hitters ready.

Scizor V and Vmax also add a powerful metal element to the game. Its attack allows you to do 90 damage while reducing 30 damage done by your opponent’s Pokémon. Add on a Metal Frying Pan or Metal Goggles supporter cards and you may find yourself in a position where your opponent’s Pokémon can’t cause damage. Which is always nice.

Crobat – this is another card that will be played along due to its strong attack and ability to fill up your bench.

There are also several new super effective Trainer and Support cards in the new Darkness Ablaze set that will shake up the standard format of Pokémon TCG. 

An example of this is Bird Keeper which allows you to switch your active Pokémon with a benched Pokémon and draw three cards if you do. This is a skill that would have usually been separated into a draw supporter and a switch supporter. Combining the effects of both allows for more utility within the game and frees up an extra slot in your deck.


For me though, pulling that Charizard Vmax and being taken back to my days as a child standing in the school yard opening the booster pack that started my journey, is a feeling that can’t be replaced. Pairing up a deck with Charizard V leading to Charizard Vmax will still, till today, send shivers down the spine of any opponent. 

Stepping away from gameplay and toward artwork – the colours and textures used to create the secret rares and V/Vmax cards have continued to be impressive. When opening a booster pack, you immediately are made aware that the V and Vmax cards are entirely different – they even feel more powerful in their texture.

There are also several variants of V cards namely ‘Full Art’ cards, they provide a more colorful and animated take on the original card. There are also secret rares to be pulled in the set including a gold Big Parasol that renders the effects of your opponent’s Pokémon useless.


You will know immediately that you have something special and something that can make your deck much more dynamic and battle ready! 

Darkness Ablaze has brought some fresh and fearsome competition to the Pokémon TCG game. There is a total of 189 cards in the set with new and exciting Pokémon to meet on the quest to Catch Them All.

Darkness Ablaze is in stores now and you can find the products at most hobby stores, toy stores or online. 

From the Unplug Yourself Team: To see more of Kish’s content, including his many unboxing videos, be sure to check out his page. HERE

Meet Kish:

Hi guys, my name is Kish and I’m a Pokémon addict. I also unbox my content on my page @pokemonkish. My Pokémon collection weighs more than most people do. I’ve been collecting since I was a child and it will never stop. My advice to new collectors is often “don’t start”, as there’s no cure.

We’ve Gotta Collect ‘em All!