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Pokemon Astral Radiance Set Review – Darkness, Metal and Dragon

The Sword & Shield Base Set through Brilliant Stars format has been a memorable one. We have seen 11 different major tournaments played in this format, with two more still to be played. The meta has shifted time and time again, we’ve seen Mew VMAX fall from dominance (and borderline oppressiveness) in favor of Arceus VSTAR rising to the top. The meta has shifted to a point where players are beginning to feel tired of Arceus VSTAR, so Astral Radiance is sure to feel like a breath of fresh air.

Astral Radiance introduces tons of new Pokemon VSTAR, Radiant Pokemon and Hisuian Pokemon as well. There is a lot to unload here, so let’s get started!

In case you missed my Brilliant Stars Set Review, let me break down exactly how I plan to rate each of these cards. I’ll be grading each of the interesting cards on a five-point scale to leave my opinion on what kind of impact these cards will have on the competitive Pokemon TCG landscape. This review will be in four parts and released over the course of the next week. Each part will cover all Pokemon of a certain type. 

As mentioned, these cards will be graded on a five-point scale, 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. Here is my criteria for each of these 5 points. 

  • 1 Point (Not Competitively Viable) – Cards with a score of 1 point are cards that I do not deem to be competitively viable.
  • 2 Points (Interesting Cards) – Cards with a score of 2 points are cards that have some potential or have interesting designs. But ultimately I believe these cards will see very little, if any competitive play.
  • 3 Points (Solid Cards) – Cards with a score of 3 points are cards that are pretty solid overall. Most of these cards will see some play in rogue decks, or be an occasional inclusion in meta decks.
  • 4 Points (Very Good) – Cards with a score of 4 points are cards that are very good, and are likely to make a competitive impact. These cards will be often played in tier 2 or tier 3 decks, sometimes making a splash into tier 1!
  • 5 Points (Top Tier) – Cards with a score of 5 points are powerful enough to instantly have an impact on the competitive metagame. These cards will either be defining to a brand new archetype, regular inclusions in top tier decks, or play a pivotal role in the overall deck building strategy of all players. Expect me to be very stingy with this 5/5 ranking! Not many cards will (or should) fit into this category.

I will be rating all of the ultra rares and holo rares on this scale. I will also rank any other additional cards that I find interesting or deem worthy of being rated. If you don’t see a card on this list, it is safe to assume I would rate it a 1.

Let’s not forget, these are all my own personal opinions! I don’t always get it right, and you may disagree with how I rank certain cards. These rankings are based on my experience as a player, being a former Worlds competitor and regular player. All of my rankings will be based on the cards’ potential in the current Standard format. Some cards may be much better in the Expanded format or even in the Gym Leader Challenge format, but for the purposes of this review, I will only be referencing Standard. Of course, future cards could be released that will make any of these cards much better than they currently are, but I can’t predict the future! So again, these cards will be rated based on the current standard format metagame, and the current standard format card pool.

 

 

Header - Darkness Type

Hisuian Sneasler (093/189)

Hisuian Sneasler (093/189)
1/5
This type of ability has been Standard legal a few times in the past few years on Bewear CEC and Dodrio BKT. The reality is, as long as cards like Switch, Escape Rope and Air Balloon are in the format, it will be hard to ever commit the deck space or bench spot necessary for Hisuian Sneasler to see play.

Hisuian Sneasler V

Hisuian Sneasler V (094/189)

1/5
All Darkness-type Pokemon are at least worth keeping in mind with the release of Dark Patch in this set. And Hisuian Sneasler is even easier to keep powered up with Dark Patch thanks to having free retreat. If there is a consistent way to Burn, Poison and inflict one other status condition, this card could be solid. 240 base damage for three status conditions, plus 30 from Choice Belt, plus 30 from Burn and Poison, racks up to 300 damage in one attack! There is limited potential here, but most likely this card will never see competitive play.

Mightyena

Mightyena (096/189)

3/5
With Pokemon VMAX seeing a decline in play, Mighyena’s viability does drop a bit. The entirety of Mightyena’s playability come from being a Darkness type, and being able to one-hit KO Mew VMAX for zero energy. As long as Mew stays a relevant part of the meta, there will be some rogue decks like Wormadam or possibly Miltank that try and make use of this card.

Absol

Absol (097/189)

1/5
Spread attacks like Swirling Disaster are cool, but spreading 10 damage as an attack just isn’t great anymore. Claw Rend can only deal 120 damage if what you’re attacking into already has damage on it. I don’t see this card ever being playable.

Darkrai V

Darkrai V (098/189)

2/5
While Darkrai isn’t amazing on it’s own, having an attack that can put your opponent’s Active Pokemon to sleep is a nice option on an evolving Basic Pokemon. This is something that could possibly buy you a turn in an otherwise tough situation in a Darkrai VSTAR deck.

Darkrai VSTAR

Darkrai VSTAR (099/189)

3/5
I think many players who are excited for Darkrai VSTAR are looking through their nostalgia goggles. While Turbo Dark was a very good deck in the 2017 and 2018 seasons (and has remained a solid player in Expanded for a few years), I do not believe that Darkrai VSTAR will be a top Darkness Type archetype. While Dark Pulse can still ramp up to a lot of damage, and there is a lot of Darkness-type support right now, Darkrai VSTAR is an evolution, which will take away from some of the consistency. And consistency was always Turbo Darks biggest asset. 

Hisuian Samurott

Hisuian Samurott (100/189)

1/5

Wily Stance is a solid ability, but it’s just unfortunate that it is locked on a Stage 2 Pokemon. Swampert CES had a similar ability, and it was used in a Regional Championship-winning deck in the past, but I think the game is not in a place right now where a Stage 2 support Pokemon is a viable option. 


Hisuian Samurott V

Hisuian Samurott V (101/189)

2/5
Basket Crash is a decent option in the correct niche scenario, and Shadow Slash can hit for 210 with a Choice Belt, which is very nice!

Hisuian Samurott VSTAR

Hisuian Samurott VSTAR (102/189)

3/5

Hisuian Samurott VSTAR is a very energy efficient attack, requiring only two Darkness Energy to attack. And there are many way to activate the extra damage of Merciless Blade. The most obvious combo is alongside Galarian Zigzagoon. Combined with Scoop Up Net, it should be very easy to hit for 220 every single turn. And of course the Moon Cleave Star VSTAR Power can aid you in reaching for a one-hit knock out on opposing Pokemon VSTAR. This card is solid, and very good in a heavy Mew VMAX meta, but I’m not sure if it will be able to consistently hang with Arceus VSTAR.

 

Header - Metal Type

Magnezone

Magnezone (107/189)

2/5
If there is a Stage 2 Pokemon that stands a chance from this set, I think it’s Magnezone. Giga Magnet is a solid energy acceleration option for metal decks. Being a Stage 2, it will still struggle with consistency, so many players will probably opt for more simple options like Metal Saucer.

Bastiodon

Bastiodon (110/189)

2/5
I almost wrote this card off completely since it’s a Stage 2 Pokemon and a Fossil Pokemon, but then I pictured a world where you had three or four Bastiodon in play reducing damage done to your Pokemon by 90 to 120 damage… and I thought that there could possibly be a world where something like this was decent. It’s probably still a noncompetitive card, but it has a shred of potential. 

Bronzong

Bronzong (112/189)

2/5
This is a really interesting one, because we’re only a couple years removed from having a Bronzong in format that literally had the same ability. That Bronzong was used in Natalie Millar and Matthew Burris’s first and second place deck from the first Players Cup tournament. How viable this card is depends totally on the popularity of Fire type Pokemon in the format. And for at least the time being, Fire type Pokemon are not very good.

Origin Forme Dialga V

Origin Forme Dialga V (113/189)

2/5
Solid attack on an evolving Pokemon V, since the Dialga VSTAR really wants a ton of energy attached. Though you do of course run the risk of your Dialga taking a big hit, or even being KOed after using Metal Coating.

Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR

Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR (114/189)

2/5
Being able to skip a turn is possibly one of the most powerful effects available to players in the Pokemon TCG right now. And Star Chronos lets you do just that… but the cost is steep. Five Energy cards to use this powerful VSTAR Power. 220 damage is a solid amount, and it’s actually enough to KO most basic Pokemon V. Metal Blast can hit for solid damage too! With enough Energy, you can OHKO any Pokémon in the game. I think the best potential for this card comes through Bronzong BST, allowing you to keep a bunch of energy in play to boost your damage even further.

 

Header - Dragon Type

Garchomp V

Garchomp V (117/189)

1/5
Free retreat is cool, but that’s about where it stops on this card. With no efficient way to power this Pokemon up, committing four Energy to discard three and deal 220 anywhere is just not a worthwhile trade off.

Regidrago

Regidrago (118/189)

1/5
Now you may have seen a six Regi deck running around online the past week, and that deck is pretty sweet! But sadly while it may be fun to play, it’s not really competitively viable. Dragon’s Hoard is a worse version of Kricketune V’s Exciting Stage in my opinion, and that card really hasn’t seen too much play.

 

Header - Closing

That wraps it up for part 3! Once again, another part with zero 4 or 5 ratings. But be sure to stay tuned for part 4, there’s sure to be some great cards in there!

Remember, if you’re ordering singles or sealed product from the newest set ChannelFireball.com has got you covered! The marketplace is an amazing place to pickup any cards you may need.

Thanks for reading!

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