Hello everyone! This is Elena from Gaia Storm TCG, and it is great to be here once again. I am sure you all know the success that Pokemon Legends of Arceus had when released last year: renewed mechanics, a new region to explore (Hisui), regional Pokemon forms and much more. No wonder why the game was such a big hit during Christmas! And now, after some months, it is time for the Trading Card Game to welcome all these new unique updates with the upcoming expansion Astral Radiance.
Following the path that Brilliant Stars created, Astral Radiance continues to focus on the powerful VSTAR Pokémon. It is coming with many new Hisuian forms that have never been featured in the TCG. The hype that this expansion has created among the players is wholly justified. In today’s article, we will explore some of the most exciting cards and understand what makes Astral Radiance one of the most incredible sets up to date.
Hisuian forms, the Legendary Pokémon and a new type of cards
First of all, it is worth mentioning that this will be a huge set. Even if we still don’t have the final setlist available, it will probably be a combination of several Japanese collections plus some pre-constructed decks. It won’t matter if you are a player or a collector. There will be something waiting for you inside the packs.
Next, we have a bunch of Hisuian Pokemon debuting in our Trading Card Game, both “regular” ones and the mighty legendary creatures. Palkia and Dialga come back to the game with renewed abilities that anticipate epic battles against Arceus VSTAR on the tables.
And last but not least, Astral Radiance features a brand new type of card: the sparking Pokémon. Similar to the Prims Star cards from the Tag Team era, Pokémon have powerful attacks and abilities but are restricted to one copy per deck. I expect them to be played from the moment they are released since they provide a lot of consistency and other advantageous aspects.
The most relevant cards: Pokémon
As I said before, the most anticipated cards will probably be Dialga and Palkia VSTAR. Dialga, Lord of Time, has a terrifying VSTAR move that gives you a brand new turn. Of course, it requires a lot of metal energies to be successful, but luckily, we have Bronzong and a lot of energy acceleration to help. And then we have Palkia VSTAR, who is supposed to be the ruler of Space. In my opinion, Palkia is THE card of the set, and it is going to rapidly become one of the most played strategies in the Standard format. Palkia is basically like Suicune V on steroids and with a special ability that lets you power multiple attackers in one single turn. With the help of the Inteleon line, I think Palkia has everything and more to dominate once Astral Radiance becomes legal, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a popular deck.
And precisely speaking about legendary Pokémon, we also have a new fan favourite coming back. Darkrai VSTAR has an explosive potential to deal more damage depending on the number of darkness energy in your field. And what could be better to help than the iconic Dark Patch? Yes, you read it right, Dark Patch (Black and White set) is coming back.
But not only these legendary Pokémon are going to be relevant as the three initials from Legends of Arceus also come with a VSTAR card. Competitively speaking, I am not that convinced about their impact, but the three of them show potential in one way or another. Decidueye can escalate damage by discarding energy cards, Samurrot deals more damage if the active Pokémon has any damage counters, and Typloshion can spread damage acting in almost a Dragapult VMAX- way.
Of course, being Astral Radiance such an enormous set, they will not be the only VSTAR cards: Staryu, Lilligant, Wyrdeer, Kleavor and more will probably be on the final list. Of these names, the one that seems to stand out more is Wyrdeer because it is a very generic attacker that can perfectly fit in any deck and can move to the active spot when played.
What surprised me about this expansion is that VMAX Pokémon are also here. Most people just assumed that VSTAR would be the rule from now on, but I quite like that Pokémon TCG is deciding to keep the balance between two and three prize-attackers. Heatran VMAX and Machamp VMAX are the new additions to the type.
And one last thing that I want to highlight is some of the Sparking Pokémon: Sparking Greninja allows you to discard energies to draw, Sparking Heatran can deal a ton of damage when combined with the Magma Basin Stadium and Sparking Hawlucha means an additional +30 damage when a Pokémon attacks a VMAX (Yes, Mew, I am looking at you, hide somewhere…).
The most relevant cards: Trainers
The set also comes with a lot of items and supporters that are a reflection of places and/or characters from Hisui.
The items that look more promising, in my opinion, are the Canceling Cologne and the Super Effective glasses. The former is like a pseudo Hex Maniac, negating the abilities of the opponent’s active Pokémon, which could be interesting in certain scenarios like going against Duraludon VMAX and its shield. The latter is a tool that multiplies three times the damage done by a Pokémon attacking for weakness. Not sure exactly what deck will benefit more from this, but it can pull off KOs in the blink of an eye.
In terms of new supporters, they are here to stay and make a difference. Roxanne has a similar effect to good old N because it punishes your opponent for being ahead in the prize race. This will enable a lot of incredible comebacks but remember that Roxanne is a dead card during the first turns of the game.
Iridia is probably my favourite as it is an amazing consistency card that gives you water energy + and an item of your choice. As is Palkia VSTAR needed any more help… And last but not least, we have Gardenia’s Vigor, which offers grass energy acceleration to Pokémon on the bench, reminding us of Welder. I wonder if Arceus will consider swapping the Double Turbo engine and adding Gardenia’s Vigour to hit for more without the -20 restriction.
In the same way, I highlighted three supporters. I want to do the same with the stadium cards because there are fascinating ones.
Temple of Sinnoh offers a brand-new way of disruption shutting down the additional effects given by special energy cards. In a metagame where multiple decks heavily rely on cards like Double Turbo Energy, Single/Rapid Strike energy, Fusion Strike energies and more, I believe this can be huge to stop certain strategies.
Another cool one is Gapejaw Bog, which automatically places two damage counters in any basic Pokémon we bench. While this might not seem broken, it is undoubtedly an excellent combo enabler, and who knows if there will come a Pokémon that can benefit from it in the future (spoiler: there is but won’t be part of this set).
The last interesting stadium is Jubilife city because it lets you draw cards and the cost of ending your turn, and we all know that drawing cards are always a great plus.
Astral Radiance is a promising new set with tons of new additions. From the Hishuan Pokémon to brand new types of cards, it is a great pick both for competitive players and for collectors (I haven’t talked about the artworks, but they are superb). I am sure this will be a set that will gain even more importance as time goes by, so don’t forget to get your boosters and more here at TCG Park! Thanks so much for reading!