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Pokemon Brilliant Stars Set Review – Grass, Fire and Water

A new set is always a very exciting time as a Pokemon player. Playing with new cards and trying to determine where everything fits into the meta is one of my favorite aspects of the game. Which new decks will rise to the top and have an impact? What older decks will get new life breathed into them via these new cards? Brilliant Stars is being touted by many community members as the best Pokemon TCG set since Guardians Rising in 2017. That’s mighty praise, considering the impact that Guardians Rising had on the game. So will Brilliant Stars stand up to the hype? 

Throughout my set review, 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. 

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

As mentioned, these cards will be graded on a five-point scale, one being the worst and five being the best. Since this is my first set review on ChannelFireball, let’s break down 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 cards that will 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 one.

It is, of course, worth noting that all pieces of this set review are my opinions! I’m by no means perfect, and you may disagree with where I rank certain cards. My ranking will be based on my experience in the game at the highest level, being a 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.

One final note: all translations come courtesy of Pokebeach.com.

Let’s begin!

 

Header - Grass Type

Torterra 008/172

Stage 2  – Evolves from Grotle

[G][C] Evopress: 50x damage. This attack does 50 damage for each of your Evolution Pokemon in play.

[G][C][C][C] Hammer In: 160 damage.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 4

2/5

As a single prize attacker, there is a lot to like about Torterra. It has a beefy 190 HP, and it’s Evopress attack deals 50 damage for each Evolution Pokemon that you have in play. So if you manage to get six Evolution Pokemon in play, you can deal a whopping 300 damage! And that can be increased even more with the new Choice Belt item. Most of what gives this card potential is the ability of it’s Stage 1 Pokemon Grotle, Sun-Drenched Shell, which allows you to search your deck for a Grass Pokemon once per turn. 

At the end of the day, it is difficult to set up that many evolution Pokemon, especially when your attacker is a Stage 2. And it’s attack requires a Grass and a Colorless Energy, making it a bit harder to stream attackers if they are continually knocked out. 


Wormadam 010/172

Stage 1 – Evolves from Burmy

[C][C] Madam’s Rage: 30+ damage. This attack does 10 more damage for each Pokemon in your discard pile.

[G][C][C] Leaf Drain: 80 damage. Heal 30 damage from this Pokemon.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: None
Retreat: 2

2/5
If you’ve been playing for a few years, Wormadams Matron’s Anger attack may seem familiar! This “vengeance” style attack is very similar to Vespiquen AOR and Flareon PLF, both of which saw competitive success. The biggest drawback to Wormadam for me is something outside of its control, the overall HP barrier of the format. When Vespiquen and Flareon were good, the highest HP a Pokemon had was generally 180. Now we have VMAX Pokemon with well over 300 HP! This makes one-hit knockouts nothing more than a pipe dream. 

Shaymin V 013/172

Basic Pokemon

[G] Wing Flap: 30 damage.

[G][C] Revenge Burst: 60+ damage. This attack does 40 more damage for each Prize card your opponent has already taken.

When your Pokemon V is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

1/5
 Reminiscent of Shaymin-EX from Next Destinies, Shaymin’s Revenge Blast gets stronger the farther you get behind. Sadly even late in the game, it will be difficult for Shaymin V to ever reach a one hit KO. Its main function will be to evolve into Shaymin VSTAR.

Shaymin VSTAR 014/172

Shaymin VSTAR (014/172)
2/5
The first VSTAR of this review! Shaymin VSTAR has a similar attack to its pre-evolution Shaymin V, but with 120 base damage. This base damage helps the damage output immensely, and opens up opportunities for late game one hit KOs. It’s VSTAR Power Ability Star Bloom can provide some healing for Grass decks, but only healing 120 damage isn’t enough to make this card great. 

Zarude V 013/172

Basic Pokemon

[G] Jump: 30 damage. This attack also does 30 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokemon.)

[G][G][C] Jungle Rage: 120+ damage. If your opponent’s Active Pokemon is a Pokémon V, this attack does 120 more damage.

When your Pokemon V is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2

1/5
I suppose this card could be played alongside Rillaboom SSH, but I’m just not seeing it. Jungle Rage can deal 240 damage to Pokemon V, which will knock out most basics. But it’s not quite getting there vs VSTARs and now where close on VMAXs. Three energy to attack is just too much to commit to something that will likely be easily dealt with. 

 

Header - Fire Type

Charizard V 017/172

Charizard V (017/172)
1/5
As with many Charizard cards over the years, this card requires too many energy to not do enough damage. The effect of Incinerate could be useful, discarding your opponent’s active Pokemon’s Tool Cards. But if you’re playing a Charizard VSTAR deck, I would actually recommend using Charizard V from Darkness Ablaze before using this card. 

Charizard VSTAR 018/172

Charizard VSTAR (018/172)
1/5
Now, Charizard is my favorite Pokemon, so it does pain me a bit to leave a 1/5 rating, but this card is just not great. Explosive Fire is a bit easier to power up than normal thanks to the new Magma Basin Stadium, but it’s still too steep of an energy cost compared to the damage output. There are just far better options out there. It’s VSTAR Power Attack Star Blaze is a nice one time OHKO option, but getting to the 4 energy required to use it will be a struggle in and of itself.

Moltres 021/172

Moltres (021/173)
2/5
This card has potential to make for a decent 1 prize tech in fire decks. Inferno Wings deals 20 damage, plus 70 more damage if Moltres has any damage counters on it. This combos very well with the new Magma Basin Stadium, and can allow for your energy attachment for turn to be placed elsewhere. 

Entei V 022/172

Entei V (022/172)
4/5
If the success of Suicune V over the past few months is any indication of how good this card will be, then watch out for Entei V! Burning Rondo deals 20 damage, and then 20 more damage for each Benched Pokemon (yours and your opponents). Solid damage output for two energy, and this will work well with the new Magma Basin Stadium! Suicune V decks are very reliant on Melony to get extra energy in play, Entei V has the ability to play more powerful supporters on those turns (like Professor’s Research or Boss’s Orders) and still get those energy in play. And of course you can’t forget Fleet-Footed, getting you 1 extra card to your hand when Entei V is in the Active Spot!

Infernape 026/172

Stage 2 – Evolves from Monferno

[R] Fire Vortex: 80x damage. Reveal the top 5 cards of your deck. This attack does 80 damage for each Energy card revealed in this way. Then discard those Energy cards and shuffle the other cards back into your deck.

[R][C] Burning Kick: 160 damage. Discard all Energy from this Pokemon.

Weakness: Water (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

1/5
A Stage 2 Pokemon that requires you to discard a bunch of cards from the top of your deck is a recipe for disaster. It is so easy to accidentally mill Evolution cards, or key pieces like Rare Candy or Supporters. Infernal Vortex does have the potential to KO literally anything in the game, which is a tempting prospect. This could certainly make for a fun budget deck that might win a game every once in a while, but outside of that do not expect much from Infernape.

Simisear V 027/172

Simisear V (027/172)
2/5
At first glance, it may be easy to write this card off. But Bursting Power provides solid energy acceleration, and Flare Juggling can actually put out decent damage as a basic Pokemon. This card might make its way into the occasional fire deck, mostly for its energy accel potential, but the downside is being a two-prize Pokemon that doesn’t provide much else.

 

Header - Water Type

Kingler V 028/172

Basic Pokemon

[W] Bubble Fall: Flip a coin. If heads, search your deck for up to 5 [W] Energy cards and attach them to your Pokemon in any way you like. Then, shuffle your deck.

[W][W][C] Wild Pincer: 200 damage. This Pokemon does 30 damage to itself.

When your Pokemon V is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3

1/5
 The first time I read this card I thought it was insane! Then I re-read it and realized that Bubble Fall requires you to flip a coin in order to use it. That coin flip instantly gives this card bulk status.

Kingler VMAX 029/172

VMAX Pokemon – Evolves from Kingler V

[W] Bubble Fall: Search your deck for up to 5 [W] Energy cards and attach them to your Pokemon in any way you like. Then, shuffle your deck.

[W][W][C] Max Pincer: 240 damage. This Pokemon does 30 damage to itself.

When your Pokemon VMAX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 3 Prize cards.

Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3

2/5
A 2/5 card, but a 5/5 attack name! Bubbles Galore is actually a very good energy acceleration option, searching out five Water energy from the deck and letting you put them you would like! There are actually a decent amount of energy hungry Water Pokemon in the format that I think could make good use of a card like this. G-Max Pincer is also an okay attack, dealing solid damage with a bit of a drawback. But ultimately Kingler VMAX is a three-prize, evolution, set up Pokemon, which has rogue status at best.

Lapras 031/172

Basic Pokemon

[W][W][C] Frost Rampage: 110 damage. If any of your Pokemon were Knocked Out by damage from an attack during your opponent’s last turn, your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Paralyzed.

Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: None
Retreat: 2

1/5
So this card isn’t great, but anytime something can leave your opponent with instant Paralysis, it is at least worth looking at. Paralysis is by far the best status condition in the game, leaving your opponent unable to attack unless they can play a switching card to get out of it. The main problem for this card? Decks play a ton of switching outs right now. So it is very unlikely Raging Freeze would ever actually accomplish its goal of buying you a turn.

Empoleon 037/172

Stage 2 – Evolves from Prinplup

Ability: Emergency Ascent
Once during your turn, if this card is in your discard pile and you have no cards in your hand, you can play this card onto your Bench then draw 3 cards.

[W] Water Arrow: This attack does 60 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon (don’t apply Weakness and Resistance).

Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2

1/5
A Stage 2 Pokemon that only deals 60 damage would normally be written off right away. But Empoleon’s Emergency Surfacing Ability gives it some potential! If you have zero cards in your hand, and this Pokemon is in your discard pile, you can place it onto your bench and draw three cards! This can be a difficult combo to pull off, and you only net three cards out of it. There is some potential here to leave this in the discard pile and give yourself an out to draw cards off of a timely Marnie from your opponent. But in reality, this is probably not a card that will ever see play. 

Floatzel 039/172

Stage 1 – Evolves from Buizel

[W] Floatify: Put 2 Item cards from your discard pile into your hand.

[W][C] Water Gun: 60 damage.

Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: None
Retreat: 1

3/5
Control players rejoice! And everyone else, cry just a little bit. Floatzel’s Floatify attack can grab you back two Item cards from your discard pile. This effect has been very good in the Pokemon TCG in the past, and most recently actually got Sableye DEX banned from the Expanded format. Floatzel has to work a bit harder, since it’s a Stage 1 Pokemon, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The control cards in the format right now aren’t the best, but the prospect of spamming an infinite amount of Crushing Hammers should be enough to make this cards at least decent. 

Lumineon V 040/172

Basic Pokemon

Ability: Luminous Sign
When you play this Pokemon from your hand onto your Bench during your turn, you may search your deck for a Supporter card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

[W][C][C] Aqua Return: 120 damage. Shuffle this Pokemon and all cards attached into your deck.

When your Pokemon V is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

3/5
I’m actually ranking this card a bit lower than I would guess most players are expecting. Lumineon V’s Ability Luminous Sign is one that has been printed several times on a basic Pokemon in the history of the Pokemon TCG. Lapras LM wasn’t ever really played, Jirachi-EX was solid and Tapu Lele-GX was top tier. So what has been the differentiating factor between these cards? Well for Lapras, there was no Quick Ball or Ultra Ball in the format, usually meaning you could only use it if you naturally drew it, or used a Supporter card to go get it. Jirachi-EX was used here and there, but mostly in specific strategies like Archie’s/Maxie’s and Wally decks. And Tapu Lele-GX was one of the best cards in the game at the time, and many would still consider it to be one of the best cards ever printed. Part of what made Tapu Lele-GX so amazing was the ability to fetch Brigette on turn one of the game, and fill your board with Pokemon. Tapu Lele-GX also had a super solid attack in Energy Drive, and was actually a regular attacker in decks that played Double Colorless Energy.

Part of the reason Lumineon V falls short of Tapu Lele-GX’s legendary status is the current turn one rules of the game. If you go first, you cannot play a supporter card. So strategies that would have worked in the past, like grabbing a “setup” supporter card to play on turn one, are much weaker now. I do still think the card is solid, and it will certainly see some play, but it is far from top tier in my opinion.


Manaphy 041/172

Basic Pokemon

Ability: Wave Veil
Prevent all damage done to your Benched Pokemon by your opponent’s attacks.

[W] Rain Splash: 20 damage.

Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

5/5
The first 5/5 from this set! This ability is so good. A basic Pokemon that can protect your bench from the myriad of attacks in the format that normally target the bench. This card is directly comparable to Mew UNB, Mr. Mime BKT and Mr. Mime PLF, all of which were highly played cards. Part of what makes Manaphy’s Wave Veil so good right now is that there are multiple popular decks, whose main strategy and gameplay revolves around spreading damage to the bench. Look out Jolteon VMAX and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX! Just this card’s existence in the format will cause other decks to adapt, earning it the 5/5 rating. 

Eiscue 044/172

Basic Pokemon (Fusion Strike)

[W][C] Block Slider: Choose 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon. This attack does 40 damage times the number of Fusion Energy attached to your Pokemon. (Don’t apply Weakness or Resistance for Benched Pokemon.)

[W][W][C] Icicle Missile: 100 damage.

Weakness: Metal (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

3/5
Being a Fusion Strike Pokemon, this card could be a solid tech option in Mew VMAX decks, allowing you to easily target Pokemon on the bench. With how strong Mew VMAX is right now, I could definitely see this card start to pop up in players lists. Manaphy should hold it at bay from being too strong, but if your opponent isn’t playing Manapy this is a great way to finish off a VMAX that was damaged a bit earlier in the game.

 

Header - Closing

Well that’s all for the first part of my Brilliant Stars set review! There are certainly some great cards in the Grass/Fire/Water category, and I can’t wait to see what kind of impact they have on the format. Be sure to keep your eye out for the next few parts of this set review, and if you’re planning to order singles or sealed product from this amazing set, don’t forget that ChannelFireball.com is a great place to do that!

As always, keep playing Pokemon!

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