Hello everyone! My name is Elena from Gaia Storm TCG, and I am beyond excited to share my first article here at TCG Park with you. I have been playing Pokémon Trading Card Game for almost a decade now (but I am not that old, I promise), and I always had the objective of helping the community grow bigger over time. That’s why I decided that my first post here would be an analysis of the upcoming set, Brilliant Stars, an expansion that comes with plenty of very powerful cards that will change the way the game is played from the very beginning first day.
One thing you should know about Brilliant Stars is that it opens up a whole new arc for the Trading Card Game. You are probably familiar with the fact that Pokémon sets follow certain themes or “eras”. For example, from the past couple of years, we had sets that focused on introducing Sword and Shield Pokémon & characters to the TGC, and now this is coming to an end. While we say goodbye to Galar, the Sinnoh region is making a comeback, which Arceus is shining above everything.
Even if this new set is not as large as the previous ones we’ve had, it still has a remarkable amount of cards. I am just going to be covering some of the most important ones from a high-level perspective so you can get an idea of the overall potential of Brilliant Stars. Let’s get to it!
Pokémon are the main attraction of Brilliant Stars because we are receiving a whole new type of card, the V-Star. A V-Star is a mechanic that works very similarly to how the GX (Sun & Moon era) did a couple of years ago. They are strong Pokémon that evolved from a regular V card and had a V-Star movement that can either be an attack or an ability that can only be activated once per game. Of course, as it happened with the GX attacks in the past, you can imagine that the V-Star ones are equally game-changing and involve actions that can turn the tables upside down. I can really wait to try them out and see how this additional layer affects the way in which we play our regular Standard format.
In this first set, we are receiving 4 V-Star cards: Charizard, Whimsicott, Shaymin, and Arceus. I am not sure how much the first three ones will be played because they surely bring many interesting things to the game but are not that powerful on their own to make a tier 1 deck, at least not right from the start. Charizard hits very hard –as most Charizard cards do- but requires a lot of energies to attack, so it can be difficult to be powered up. Whimsicott will be more support or secondary attacker than the main protagonist of a deck but comes with a very interesting attack that can lock entire strategies out. Then we have Shaymin, who holds big potential during the last turns of the game and can be a very good partner with Leafeon VMAX. But above all, Arceus, the god himself, shines. It is the set card and probably one of the most powerful ones I’ve seen in the past few years.
Arceus has literally everything: generic energy requirements, high HP, an attack that can be used in your second turn and that accelerates energies, and an astonishing V-Star ability that allows the player to search for any combination of two cards at any point. As such, Arceus V-Star enables a lot of incredible plays and will be played with many other attackers like Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, Duraludon VMAX, or any other VMAX Pokémon.
There are other good V cards in the set worth keeping an eye on. Raikou and Entei V work the same way as Suicune V and are very efficient two prize attackers. Raichu V can be very fun to play with other electric Pokémon like Boldtund V and Flaaffy to gather a high number of lightning-energy cards. And then we have Lumineon V, which will become an instant staple for many, many decks as it lets you search any supporter card when it is played from your hand to your bench, providing a much welcome consistency.
To close this chapter, we also need to highlight very solid non-V Pokémon cards. Phione is the tool we were waiting for to fight against bench snippers like Rapid Strike Urshifu and Jolteon VMAX; Bibarel is an amazing draw engine (yes, 2022 is the year where we received a playable Bibarel card!) that fits in many decks; Moltres is a very cheap attacker for fire decks, and Torterra could become a good rogue on its own.
Items & Stadiums
You know a set is good when it comes with generic trainers that will benefit every deck in the format, and it is precisely what Brilliant Stars is doing. That means you have very high chances of pulling very powerful cards from every pack.
I think the trainer of this set is none other than Ultra Ball. Yes, Ultra Ball, this card that has always been played since it was released in Dark Explored and suddenly disappeared during the past years… well, it is back, and I expect it to have the impact it always had. Not every deck will run four copies of this card, especially since we have the Inteleon engine, but it will be an amazing consistency boost for many other decks like Eternatus or Mew VMAX.
If Ultra Ball alone was not enough, we are getting Choice Belt, a tool card that reminds us of powerful attack modifiers from the past. With Choice Belt, a Pokémon will deal +30 damage when attacking an opponent V card, and it is insane to reach critical numbers. I can’t see a deck that won’t like to run 2 or 3 copies of this card immediately.
We also happen to be getting two very cool stadium cards in this set, Magma Basin and Collapsed Stadium. Magma Basin provides fire-type energy acceleration at the cost of putting some damage counters in a benched Pokémon. Since getting more than one energy on the field each turn is one of the most powerful effects in the game, these cards seem like a must-have for fire-type decks, and who knows if it will be enough to make Charizard V-Star a force to reckon.
Collapsed Stadium is also a very flexible card that can provide different benefits depending on the situation. When used, it limits the bench space to 4, forcing players to discard if they have five or more. Having a reduced bench space is a problem for decks like Eternatus and, to some extent, for Mew VMAX but can also be used defensively. For example, a player might choose to discard a damaged Pokémon from their side or those V Pokémon that had already used their effects like Crobat V or Lumineon V.
Let’s continue by looking at the supporters’ line-up because there are some interesting additions. Cynthia’s Ambition is perhaps my top pick since it provides a very interesting drawing effect that is especially useful for one-prizers decks like Malamar or Regidrago. I won’t be surprised to see high counts included in these types of strategies. Moving on, we have Cheren’s Care, which allows us to put in our hand a Colorless Pokémon, healing it in the process. While this is indeed powerful and has very obvious synergy with Arceus V-Star, I think it opens room to experiment with some other cards like Togekiss VMAX and see if a control deck can be created thanks to it.
Team Yell’s Cheer and Roseanne’s Backup are also cards with potential, but they are only to be played in very specific situations or strategies, and I am not sure of how much of an impact they will have short term.
Also, it is worth mentioning that Professor’s Research and Boss’s Orders are back with the Diamond & Pearl characters this time (Rowen and Cyrus), and it is never a bad thing to pull one of these cards from a pack.
We only have one special energy type card in this set, but… what a card! Double Turbo Energy is almost a reprint of the good old Double Colorless Energy in the sense that it provides two colorless energies to any Pokémon. Still, it has one important drawback: the user deals -30 damage to the opponent’s active Pokémon. While the damage reduction could be annoying, it does not matter much as the benefits are bigger. This card is what allows Arceus V-Star to attack as early as turn two and start powering up the rest of your attackers in your deck, which is literally insane. But there are other Pokémon that will equally benefit from Double Turbo Energy. For example, Mew VMAX can now attack with one single attachment without relying on Elesa’s Sparkle (yup, sounds scary), Mad Party has the possibility of making a comeback, and who knows if Togekiss VMAX will start seeing the play from now on. What is clear is that any Pokémon that requires two colorless energies will have a lot of advantages.
A Galaxy of Brilliance
As if everything reviewed up to this point was not enough to convince you of the value of this set, there is one last thing to consider. Since Brilliant Stars combines regular Japanese expansions and collectors’ ones, this set comes with much more high-rarity cards than common expansions do. For instance, there are a lot of chances to get a “character card”, which are cards from previous sets featuring a Pokémon with its trainer (and yes, they all look amazing), and this applies to popular V and VMAX cards like the Eeveelution (Sylveon and Umbreon) or Calyrex VMAX plus many others. And not only that, but we are also getting some very stunning back & gold artworks for Rapid Strike and Single Strike Urshifu VMAX!
All in all, you can see why everyone is so excited about the new set: it comes with amazing cards that will shake up the entire metagame, and it opens a new era with all the Diamond and Pearl cards. This won’t stop as the next expansion will probably continue this line and directly introduce Legends of Arceus to the TCG. I can’t wait to start testing the new cards and prepare for a whole new Standard format. Don’t forget that you can get the products you are looking for here at TCG Park! Thanks for reading and see you next time.
About the Author
While not a full-time Pokémon player, Elena is a TCG content creator that runs the largest YouTube channel for Spanish speakers. Having played the Pokémon Card Game for more than ten years, her goal is always to help newcomers and help the community grow and improve while having a good time. You will always find her with a book in her hand and trying to do lots of things at the same time. You can find her on Twitter, Youtube, Twitch, and other media platforms, so come and say hi!