Pokemon TCG Obsidian Flames review – A dazzling expansion

Daniel Megarry
Charizard ex in the Pokemon TCG Obsidian Flames expansion set

Obsidian Flames is the next major Pokemon TCG expansion, introducing type-shifted Tera Pokemon, stunning illustration rares, and a quartet of highly-desirable Charizard ex cards that will no doubt be popular with long-time fans and newcomers alike.

The Scarlet & Violet era of the Pokemon TCG is now well underway, and the third expansion, Obsidian Flames, is set to grow the beloved trading card game even further with 230 new cards including a mix of Paldea favorites and all-time classics like Ninetails, Absol, and Vespiquen.

Ahead of its release on August 11, 2023, The Pokemon Company gave me a chance to preview the new expansion with an Elite Trainer Box, a Booster Box, and a Build & Battle Box to open.

Inspired by the Pokemon Scarlet & Violet video games, the biggest addition to the TCG in Obsidian Flames is a series of type-shifted Tera Pokemon ex cards. These rare cards appear with different Energy types than you’d normally expect, like the Dark-type Charizard ex or the Electric-type Tyranitar ex.

A photo of several Pokemon TCG Obsidian Flames cards

Although they use the same Energy cards as their usual type when attacking, their weakness and resistance will correspond with their shifted Tera type.

As well as adding a strategic twist to the game, these Tera Pokemon ex cards also feature some of the best designs I’ve ever seen in the Pokemon TCG. I’d even go as far as to say that the standard base set versions give the illustration rare variants a run for their money.

Charizard steals the show once again

The ultimate chase card in the Obsidian Flames expansion is, of course, Dark-type Tera Charizard ex. I managed to pull the regular version of this card, which looks stunning with its crystallized Tera artwork that leaps out of the box, but I had no luck finding any of the ultra rare, special illustration rare, or hyper rare variants.

It may seem obvious to point out, but it seems these Tera Charizard ex cards are going to be very hard to find. I opened a whopping 49 booster packs in total and only came across the one Charizard card mentioned above, so be prepared for potential disappointment (or to spend a lot of money) if these are the cards you’re hoping for.

The good news is that there are plenty of other excellent cards to find in this set. Two of my favorites that I pulled are the adorable Fire-type Tera Eiscue ex special illustration rare and the dreamy stargazing Cleffa illustration rare. These are the kind of full-art cards that look so good you’ll want to frame and keep them on display.

A photo of six cards from the Pokemon TCG Obsidian Flames expansion

In total, I found five of the new Tera Pokemon ex cards (Charizard, Dragonite, Tyranitar, Greedent, and Eiscue), so if those are what you’re after, you should have a pretty decent shot of getting at least one of them. I know pull rates have been a point of contention among collectors for a while now, and while I don’t think they’re amazing with this expansion, they’re not terrible either.

As for the rest of Obsidian Flames’ offerings, there are loads of popular Paldea region Pokemon cards to discover including Armarouge, Palafin, Revavroom ex. and Toedscruel ex. On top of this, trainers like Geeta, Poppy, and Ryme get a chance to shine as Supporter cards with some lovely alt-art variants.

It’s not all about the newcomers, though – fans of Eevee will be glad to know that the classic creature makes its Scarlet & Violet era debut in this expansion, with the option to evolve it into either Espeon or Umbreon if you can find them.

While there’s plenty to love with Obsidian Flames, I do think it suffers slightly from being released in between the Scarlet & Violet base set and Pokemon 151 expansion – two mega-hyped sets that leave this one feeling a little less exciting by comparison. It doesn’t quite have that ‘must-have’ sheen to it.

Judged on its own merit, though, this is another solid addition to the Pokemon TCG. There are some excellent illustration rare cards to find and the artwork for even the most basic cards is still top-notch. I also appreciate the type-shifting Tera Pokemon cards for attempting to shake the game up a bit.

What’s in the Obsidian Flames Elite Trainer Box?

Pokemon TCG Elite Trainer Box

While the expensive Booster Box with its 36 Booster Packs is the obvious option for collectors looking to get as many Obsidian Flames cards as possible, the Elite Trainer Box is – as always – a more affordable choice that comes packed full of extras to add to your TCG collection.

Inside this ETB you’ll find 9 Obsidian Flames booster packs, 65 card sleeves, 45 Energy cards, 6 damage-counter dice, 1 coin-flip die, 2 plastic condition markers, a code card for the Pokemon TCG Live app, and a lovely etched full-art foil promo card featuring a rather angry-looking Charmander.

As for the Elite Trainer Box itself, I have to say it’s not my favorite. The design is quite muted so it’s missing the sparkle of the Koraidon and Miraidon ETBs, or the bold colors of the Paldea Evolved ETB. It’s still a high-quality product, though, and will no doubt please fans of the Charmander evolution line.

The Verdict – 4/5

Obsidian Flames is a lovely expansion that keeps up the high quality I’ve come to expect from the Pokemon TCG. It doesn’t feel quite as essential as other sets, but if you’re looking to add more Paldea Pokemon to your collection or you’ve got your eye on those dazzling type-shifted Tera cards, it’s definitely worth exploring.

Dexerto was provided with a Booster Box, an Elite Trainer Box, and a Build & Battle Box for the purpose of this review.

About The Author

Daniel graduated from university with a degree in Journalism and English Language, before spending five years at GAY TIMES covering LGBTQ+ news and entertainment. He then made the switch to video game journalism where he produces news, features, and guides for Pokemon, Fortnite, Nintendo, and PlayStation games. Daniel also has a passion for any games with queer representation.