The new Pokemon Trading Card Game expansion, Astral Radiance, has a lot of cool inclusions, mostly built around the introduction of Hisui to the world of the TCG. But which are the best Astral Radiance cards? As always, it depends on what you’re wanting, but we’re here to help no matter your criteria!
The coolest cards
As with the last set, the undeniable coolest cards to pull belong to the Trainer Gallery subset. Starmie V is hanging out in the pool with Misty, presumably chilling between sessions of ruining everyone’s first Nuzlocke runs. Flapple looks like it’s having a good time with Milo, too. There’s also a whole host of Galarian legendaries in the mix this time, like Calyrex V, Zacian V and Zamazenta V.
Origin Forme Palkia and Dialga are certainly flashy presences here. They’re big honkin’ creatures with big honkin’ effects and even bigger and honkin’-er VSTAR forms. We’re honestly a bit surprised that The Pokemon Company didn’t hold these two back as the centerpieces of their own set sometime later. But hey, we got a new generation on the way soon, so no time like the present, we suppose!
Also the reintroduction of shiny Pokemon to the TCG, now dubbed Radiant, leads to some flashy effects! It’s fun to throw down Radiant Greninja, a Basic somehow, and use its turn-Water-energy-into-two-cards power. And, you know, it looks very cool in its alternate colors.
The most interesting cards
As the Pokemon TCG keeps building toward super-powerful Pokemon V, the new Miltank card could be nice to have around. It’s immune to damage from those creatures, meaning your opponent will have to find a normal old card to take you out.
Similarly, its Stage 2 status is probably too much of a pain to see competitive play, but Bastiodon reduces damage to your whole party from Pokemon V by 30.
Regidrago might be fun, too? If you put it in your active spot, you can draw up to four cards each turn and really stock up on strategies and resources.
The most meta-relevant cards
Switch Cart, new to this set, should show up in a lot of competitive decks as a direct upgrade to the standard Switch card. It heals the creature switching out a bit! Not a heck of a lot, just for 30, but when you’d just be using Switch anyway, it’s only a benefit.
Irida, while limited to Water decks, will likely also see some play. She can search for a Water creature and an Item at the same time, letting you set up whatever combo you need at the moment. Adaman is theoretically more powerful, letting you grab any two cards, but the huge cost of discarding two Steel energy is going to limit its play.
Gardenia’s Vigor will also merit some consideration in Grass decks. Both drawing two cards and letting you play two extra energy? Yeah, that’s nice. Especially given how much Grass likes attacks that benefit from piles of energy.
Also, hey, Dark Patch is getting a reprint! The popular Item card will be helping Darkness decks for another generation.
The cutest cards
Unsurprisingly, a heaping helping of cute can be found on the cards of adorable starters Rowlet and Oshawott. They’re in their element — literally — and having a good time. Though it’s hard to go wrong with a Rowlet, you know?
Eevee, resting in the forest, is as cute as ever. And hey: maybe playable? Its ability lets you search for an Stage 1 and evolve it if it’s nearby another Eevee evolution. It won’t see competitive play, but it makes a fun multi-Eevee deck a bit stronger. Teddiursa, perching atop a Jubilife Village rooftop, seems to be having the time of its life. It’s glowing in the moonlight, and we’d go retrieve it and hug it if we were less afraid of heights.
Special credit, though, goes to the Trainer Gallery version of Mightyena. The dark dog is usually more awe-inspiring than aww-inspiring, but its psyched reaction to being served themed treats really won us over. Sparkles!