Astral Radiance is the latest expansion for the Pokemon Trading Card Game. It takes us back in time to the Hisui area, which we first saw in Pokemon Legends: Arceus.
Along with the VSTAR cards from Brilliant Stars, there are also brand-new Radiant Pokemon. These Pokemon are so powerful that you can only put one of them in a deck.
This set has a lot that fans will like. Astral Radiance is a great set to just chill out with and open packs with, whether it’s the first time seeing faces from Hisui on cards or the many beautiful full-art cards.
But which cards should you be most on the lookout for?
Here are the 15 cards in Sword & Shield: Astral Radiance that are the most important.
15. Garchomp V (Trainer Gallery)
The Champion of Generation IV is one of the most popular Trainers in the series, and Garchomp, her most famous Pokémon, is a real danger in Pokémon: Diamond & Pearl.
The last time we saw this powerful duo on the same card was in Hidden Fates, on one of the most sought-after cards in the set.
The only thing keeping this card’s price from going up is that Trainer Gallery cards don’t come up very often.
Even though these rates aren’t quite as good as they were in Brilliant Stars, your chances of getting Garchomp V in any given starter pack (about 1 in 400) are still better than your chances of getting the Full Art version of Garchomp V (about 1 in 700).
The fact that the Trainer Gallery version is more valuable anyway shows how famous Cynthia is.
14. Path to the Peak
Like Double Turbo Energy, this Gold Rare printing of Path to the Peak is the only one we’ve seen with a high rare.
Path to the Peak stops all kinds of annoying abilities, from Lugia VSTAR’s Summoning Star to Galarian Zapdos V’s Fighting Instinct to Genesect V’s Fusion Strike System.
So many people are playing Path to the Peak that it’s not surprising that some are taking the scenic road.
13. Radiant Greninja
Radiant Pokémon are one of the new things that Astral Radiance adds. These cards are rare and strong, but each deck can only have one of them.
Three of them are new to this set, but Radiant Greninja is the best.
Drawing cards is always good for a deck, and Greninja works well with some of the better water Pokémon in the set, like Starmie V and Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR.
Throw in a Melony or two, and the rule to throw away cards from Concealed Cards isn’t so bad.
Since the Sword and Shield base set came out in early 2020, almost every competitive deck has been built around Pokémon V, VMAX, and VSTAR cards.
Because of this, cards that stop them tend to be very strong, and Miltank from Astral Radiance is a great example of this.
It’s also funny to see powerful Pokemon like Arceus VSTAR get beaten by a silly cow. Miltank is being paired with Chilling Reign’s Blissey V in the Standard format online, and the results are shocking.
11. Dark Patch
In Astral Radiance, evil Pokémon are stronger than they have been in a long time.
With the new set, darkness decks are clearly strong thanks to Darkrai VSTAR, Hisuian Samurott VSTAR, and a few other cards.
Dark Patch is a reprint from the Dark Explorers update from 2012. It helps out.
Running a full set of Dark Patch cards is a safe way to power up Darkrai VSTAR, which does damage based on how many Darkness energy are attached to your Pokémon.
Just make sure to pair Dark Patch with either Ultra Balls or Quick Balls so that Dark Patch can find the energy in your discard pile.
10. Irida (Rainbow Secret Rare)
Astral Radiance includes a lot of great new Supporter cards, but Irida makes a case for being one of the best.
It allows you to search your deck for a water Pokémon, which, coincidentally, is the typing for one of the strongest Astral Radiance cards. (Spoiler: you’ll see it a bit further down this list.)
Irida also lends some fantastic consistency to decks dependant on the Inteleon engine – lists like Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX and many of the new Palkia builds we’re seeing.
All told, Irida is going to be an invaluable inclusion in many water-type decks in the new Standard format.
9. Hisuian Sneasler V (Alternate Art)
Since this set is based on Legends: Arceus, it was only natural that some new Hisuian Pokemon would make their appearance.
The first Pokémon on this list is the Hisuian Sneasler. It is a new type of Sneasel that is used in Legends to help people get around the many rocket cliffs that are all over the area.
The alternate art for Sneasler is beautiful. It shows Sneasler clawing its way up to a nest of playing Hisuian Sneasels as it looks out over Hisui.
The card itself is pretty good, too, because it pushes you to poison your opponent with Poison Claws and other status effects before dropping a Dire Claw to deal a lot of damage.
8. Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR (Gold Secret Rare)
After making its first appearance in Brilliant Stars, VSTAR is back. Each VSTAR has its own VSTAR Power that can only be used once in a game but is very powerful to make up for it.
Dialga is time itself, so its VSTAR power, taking an extra turn, is one of the best we’ve seen so far.
Even though you probably won’t see this card very often in Standard, you’ll see it a lot more in Expanded, where you can get multiple extra turns at once.
Golden rares are usually worth more than rainbow rares, which are the other popular type of secret rare.
This is clear because no other art for this card appears in the top ten. The rainbow rare costs almost half as much as the non-secret rare version, which costs only $15.81.
7. Hisuian Samurott VSTAR (Gold Secret Rare)
The only starting Pokemon on this list is the one that got the least attention leading up to the release of Legends: Arceus.
Even so, people especially want the gold rare version of Samurott.
It is, however, one of the few gold-styled cards where the dark blues and reds really stand out thanks to the card’s outline.
Samurott’s Merciless Blade move is great for getting big Pokemon out of the way. If a Pokemon is already hurt, dealing it 220 damage is usually enough to knock it out.
If it isn’t, you can always use its VSTAR power, Moon Cleave Star, to finish it off.
6. Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR (Rainbow Secret Rare)
Dialga VSTAR’s ability to give you an extra turn is powerful in Expanded, but it’s mostly Standard that moves packs. One of the most exciting cards in Astral Radiance is Palkia VSTAR, which can bend space.
At first look, the abilities don’t seem like much, but then you realize that Subspace Swell also adds damage based on how many Pokemon your opponent has on the bench.
With two full benches, it does 260 damage, which is a lot. With some buffs, like a Choice Belt, it can kill almost any Pokemon in a single hit.
This card has already been used a lot in the Japanese card game, so it makes sense that its value here is so high.
5. Irida (Alternate Art)
The fact that Irida is doing so well is also because Palkia VSTAR is so famous. Because she can look for a water Pokemon and an item, it’s easy to find Palkia VSTAR and the item that will help it come online very early.
The two seem like they were made for each other, and since Palkia VSTAR could become such a powerful deck after the release of Astral Radiance, everyone wants to get all the pieces as soon as possible.
4. Machamp V (Alternate Art)
Some cards are worth what they are because of what they will do in the game. Other cards are worth what they are because of how they make you feel. This is definitely the case with Machamp V.
The secret rare art makes me think of older expansions like Battle Styles’ hungry Tyranitar and Evolving Skies’ huge VMAX Eeveelutions by just showing a Machamp going about its daily business at the Stow-on-Side market. It’s a nice slice of life card that fans always seem to like.
3. Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR (Gold Secret Rare)
We’ve already talked about why Palkia VSTAR is going to be such a big deal for the game. The fact that it’s a golden rare shows a second thing: people like to make their decks look pretty.
Getting rid of your opponent with a top-tier deck is great, but it’s even better if you can do it with a fancy secret rare version.
The base Palkia VSTAR is currently at #11, just below Sneasler V at $33.98.
2. Origin Forme Palkia V (Alternate Art)
Palkia VSTAR can knock out foes with just one hit, but you’ll need to evolve it from Palkia V first. But I doubt that’s why this version is so highly regarded—just look at the art!
Origin Forme Palkia is in a strange, M.C. Escher-like environment with twisting geometry and floating pillars.
This is a brilliant move for the person in charge of all physical space.
This is some of the most interesting art we’ve seen on a Pokemon card in a long time, and the fact that it’s part of a very important deck makes it even better.
1. Origin Forme Dialga V (Alternate Art)
Palkia may have beaten Dialga in VSTARS, but with this beautiful alternate art, Dialga is back on top when it comes to the basic V forms.
From the moon’s stages slowly moving across the sky to the way the stars swirl around the planet as it spins in space, there is so much attention to detail in this art that makes it so beautiful.
Even though it is needed to grow Dialga into its VSTAR form, which makes it useful in Dialga VSTAR decks, this one is probably the most valuable because it looks the best.
People are ready to pay over $100 for this card, which is something every collector will want.
Still, the price of Dialga V has gone down a lot between the time it was announced and when it came out. Palkia might not have to wait too long to get back on the throne.