10 best Pokemon cards released in 2023, from Deoxys VMAX to Gholdengo ex
From the excellent Crown Zenith to the hype-inducing Pokemon 151, there have been several Pokemon TCG expansions to unpack in 2023 and some absolutely stunning cards included in them.
Whether it’s the type-shifted Tera Charizard ex, the golden Giratina VSTAR, or the chilling Chien-Pao ex, Pokemon card collectors have been in for a treat this year - and their bank accounts have probably taken a pretty big hit because of it.
With the end of the year approaching, I’m taking a look back at some of the best Pokemon cards released throughout 2023, based on two factors: how cool their designs are and how useful they are in battle. Do you have any of them?
10. Blastoise ex from Pokemon 151
There were plenty of chase cards to be found in the Pokemon 151 expansion, but this Blastoise ex is one of my all-time favourites. 330HP combined with the defensive ability Solid Shell makes it a tank on the playing field, while the attack Twin Cannon is cheap and powerful. I also love the story told with each of the evolution cards.
9. Roaring Moon ex from Paradox Rift
The arrival of Ancient and Future cards in the Paradox Rift expansion certainly gave the Pokemon TCG a shake-up, with Roaring Moon ex rising to the top of the pack. With the right deck, this card can deliver an instant knockout to any opponent in just a few turns thanks to the terrifying Frenzied Gouging attack. It's easy to see why it's become a meta card.
8. Chien-Pao ex from Paldea Evolved
The four Treasures of Ruin Legendaries seemed to have gotten lost in the hype around Koraidon, Miraidon, and the Ancient/Future Paradox Pokemon in Scarlet & Violet. But this Chien-Pao ex card from the Paldea Evolved expansion demanded attention on release with its powerful Hail Blade attack. When paired with Baxcalibur, it can unleash a wave of terror on your opponent's deck - and the Illustration Rare variant features fearsome artwork to boot.
7. Deoxys VMAX from Crown Zenith
One of the most striking Pokemon cards of the year is the ultra rare Deoxys VMAX card from the Crown Zenith expansion. It's no surprise to see that this vibrant artwork comes courtesy of Akira Komayama, who's created some of my all-time favourite cards (including another on this very list). The semi-borderless design is something I'd really like to see more of in future cards.
6. Gardevoir ex from Scarlet & Violet
My favourite thing about the Scarlet & Violet era of the Pokemon TCG is the charming stories that the Illustration Rares have been telling, and the Kirlia/Gallade/Gardevoir trilogy from the base Scarlet & Violet expansion is one of the best. As its owner grows older, this beloved Pokemon is by her side every step of the way. Heartwarming is an understatement. It's the kind of artwork you want to frame.
5. Zapdos ex from Pokemon 151
While it was the Electric/Flying-type Legendary Zapdos that got the Special Illustration Rare treatment in Pokemon 151, the card's artwork actually features all three of the iconic Kanto birds - Zapdos, Articuno, and Moltres - giving collectors another chance to get a trio of Legendaries on one single, stunning card. Countless booster packs later, I'm still trying to pull this card.
4. Mew ex from Pokemon 151
Mew ex was one of the standout cards from the Pokemon 151 expansion, but it's the promo card variant that was only available in the Ultra Premium Collection in Western markets that really stole the show. This etched shiny card went viral because of its gorgeous artwork that resembles the setting sun when it's tilted in the light. It is lovely.
3. Gholdengo ex from Paradox Rift
After Pokemon Scarlet & Violet introduced Gholdengo as the 1000th Pokemon in the Pokedex, it was only a matter of time before this rare evolution got a trading card that matched its importance. One year after those games were released, the Paradox Rift expansion arrived to fulfil that prophecy.
With striking gold artwork, the Special Illustration Rare variation of Gholdengo ex remains one of the most desirable cards in this set. Moreover, TCG fans have been building entire decks based around this one card, thanks to its potent Make It Rain attack that can dish out some devastating damage.
2. Giratina VSTAR from Crown Zenith
Giratina VSTAR was already a competitive beast when it appeared in 2022's Lost Origin expansion, but the Secret Rare variation that was introduced with this year's Crown Zenith set was the pièce de résistance. Featuring gothic-style artwork with a gold border, it's the definition of a cool Pokemon card.
We mentioned that it's a competitive beast - that's because of the Star Requiem attack that delivers an instant knockout once 10 cards have been relegated to the Lost Zone. Entire decks can be built around Pokemon that build up your Lost Zone, letting Giratina swoop in and crush even the most powerful opponent.
1. Tera Charizard ex from Obsidian Flames
There were so many amazing Pokemon cards released this year, but none can hold a candle to Tera Charizard ex from the Obsidian Flames expansion. The sparkling Special Illustration Rare variant in particular became arguably the most coveted card of 2023, and for good reason.
As well as featuring a stunning crystalized design from Akira Egawa, this card also had a big impact on the Pokemon TCG meta. I play the mobile game most days, and couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve come across a powerful Tera Charizard ex deck that’s wiped the floor with me.
One of the best things about this card, though, is how accessible it is. With four variations available in the Obsidian Flames set, it seemed everyone and their grandma was pulling at least one of them from their Elite Trainer Boxes - even if it wasn’t the valuable Special Illustration Rare variation.
That's it for my roundup of the best Pokemon TCG cards this year. Have you been lucky enough to pull any of them? Or maybe you disagree with the list? Let me know!
While you're here, visit our Pokemon homepage for the latest news and guides or check out the most valuable 151 cards and the most valuable Paradox Rift cards to see if you've got anything rare in your collection.