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Pokemon Astral Radiance Set Review – Grass, Fire and Water

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. 

  • Part 1) Grass, Fire, and Water Pokemon
  • Part 2) Lightning, Psychic, and Fighting Pokemon
  • Part 3) Darkness, Metal, and Dragon Pokemon
  • Part 4) Colorless Pokemon and Trainers/Special Energy

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 - Grass Type

Beedrill V

Beedrill V (161/189)
1/5
While the threat of being able to do a ton of damage to the bench with Swarming Sting seems solid, in reality its just not quite enough damage. Even if you get four Beedrill V in play and get three Energy on one of them to start attacking, you’re not even doing enough damage to KO popular basic Pokemon V like Arceus V and Rapid Strike Urshifu V. And a Bench targeting strategy like this can totally be ruined by a single copy of Manaphy BRS.

Hisuian Voltorb

Hisuian Voltorb (002/189)

2/5
I actually think this card has a ton of potential. Its attack can be used for zero energy, which makes it very easy to pull off an attack on the first turn of the game. The downside of this card is that its attack can only be used on turn one when you’re going second. After that, Cheerful Charge will have no effect. But, getting two extra Energy cards in play can be very strong. I can see this card being a one-of inclusion in decks that love to flood the board with energy cards.

Kricketune

Kricketune (010/189)

1/5
I think the idea of playing a card like this seems solid. I mean who wouldn’t want to boost their Pokemon’s HP? I’m not sure that +40 HP is relevant enough with Choice Belt being such a popular inclusion in the meta game right now. 

Hisuian Lilligant

Hisuian Lilligant (016/189)

2/5
This card obviously reminds me a lot of Tapu Koko SM30 from the Sun & Moon era. A spread damage attack like this can be very powerful, and this card has the added benefit of switching to the Bench after attacking with it. This means you can switch into something that can wall whatever your opponent has, while spreading damage to their whole field. This is a Stage 1, so it’s a bit harder to get set up and rolling than Tapu Koko was. I don’t expect this card to see much play at all, but it certainly seems fun to mess around with at least.

Hisuian Lilligant V

Hisuian Lilligant V (017/189)

2/5
While this card isn’t great on it’s own, Dance Gracefully is a really solid attack for an evolving Basic Pokemon. It can be used for zero Energy, and fill your hand up to help prepare for the next turn. This cards use will obviously be directly dependent on how strong Hisuian Lilligant VSTAR is.

Hisuian Lilligant VSTAR

Hisuian Lilligant VSTAR (018/189)

2/5
Hisuian Lilligant is pretty mediocre overall. It does decent damage when combined with Choice Belt and makes great use of the new Gardenia’s Vigor Supporter card, but overall I think I’ll have a hard time choosing to build a deck with this VSTAR when Arceus VSTAR is an option.

 

Header - Fire Type

Heatran V

Heatran V (025/189)

1/5
Any Fire Pokemon has to be at least somewhat considered while Magma Basin is a card in format. While it’s probably pretty easy to power Heatran V up, Magma Fall is pretty mediocre at best

Heatran VMAX

Heatran VMAX (026/189)

2/5
I wrote this card off pretty hard initially but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I see its potential. Heatran VMAX is a high HP Pokemon with an ability that allows you to heal yourself. I could definitely see this being used in an attacking wall type of deck with lots of healing cards to try and keep your Heatran’s around. With a Choice Belt, Max Heat Brust can OHKO most basic Pokemon V. This card likely isn’t great, but I don’t think it’s unplayable by any means.

Radiant Heatran

Radiant Heatran (027/189)

2/5

While dealing 70x can certainly ramp up very quickly, I think it’s a little unfeasible to get this Pokemon powered up with enough counters on it to hit for relevant damage. I’m sure there are wild combos with this card in Expanded, but at least for now in Standard, I don’t feel like it will be very strong.

 

Header - Water Type

Starmie V

Starmie V (030/189)

4/5
Starmie V puts a lot of pressure onto decks that love to fill the board with energy. With how popular Arceus VSTAR has become, it’s pretty easy for Starmie V to come in and take a big midgame KO with Energy Spiral. It can easily be powered up in one turn with a Melony, or possibly by Palkia VSTAR. Even just this card existing in the format could cause certain decks to play around it.

Origin Forme Palkia V

Origin Forme Palkia V (039/189)

2/5
This card is pretty solid for an evolving Basic. While you won’t be playing Origin Forme Palkia V without its corresponding VSTAR, I can certainly see Rule the Region bailing you out in certain scenarios. Hydro Break is also a solid attack since with a Choice Belt you can deal 230 damage, KOing most basic Pokemon V. 

Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR

Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR (040/189)

4/5
Most of you probably expected me to give Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR a five rating. While I do think the card is very good, I’m not confident that it’s an instant Tier 1 deck. My main issue with Palkia is that its damage output is directly impacted by something that your opponent can control: how many Pokemon they put into play. Part of the reason Suicune has seen success in the past is because it can utilize Ludicolo EVS’s Enthusiastic Dance ability. This is not something that Palkia is able to do, since it is an evolution Pokemon. The Star Portal VSTAR Power is extremely solid, allowing you to get a bunch of extra energy cards in play. This can create unique plays, like powering up Radiant Greninja as an attacker!

Hisuian Basculin

Hisuian Basculin (043/189)

2/5
I could actually see this card being included in set up decks. Gather the Crew can be used for free, and it’s very easy to go into since you can attach and retreat for turn. I don’t think this card will be quite as good as Alolan Vulpix GRI was, since that card could grab evolution Pokemon, but it still is interesting nonetheless. 

Keldeo

Keldeo (045/189)

1/5
The potential to do 110 damage for just two Energy would be really good, if we were living in 2012.

Radiant Greninja

Radiant Greninja (046/189)

5/5
In my opinion, this is one of the strongest cards in the set. You are only able to play one Radiant Pokemon in a deck, and I imagine most players will opt for Greninja. It’s Concealed Cards ability can be useful in any deck, and is especially powerful alongside cards like Melony, Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR, Raihan, Training Court, Dark Patch and more. And certain decks can also make great use of its Moonlight Shuriken ability, dealing 90 damage to two of your opponent’s Pokemon. A well-timed attack from Radiant Greninja can cripple your opponents set up, and put you very far ahead. Every deck will and should at least consider playing this card. It is that good.

Galarian Mr. Rime V

Galarian Mr. Rime V (049/189)

1/5
This is a Fusion Strike Pokemon, which would initially make you wonder if it was worth the spot in a Mew VMAX deck. But then you should quickly realize the answer is no, and that this card doesn’t add any benefit to any new or existing archetype. Sure, Surprising Hand could be a decent set up attack, but Marnie remains a popular choice in many decks. And Customizing Cane could hit for solid damage, but as a Mew VMAX player you would much rather just copy Melodious Echo or Techno Blast (both of which can deal more damage).

 

Header - Closing

Part 1 of my Astral Radiance set review is in the books! There are a lot of interesting cards in this part, but the standouts are without a doubt Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR and Radiant Greninja. I can’t wait to try these cards out a bit more, and see how solid they will be in the competitive Pokemon TCG!

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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