Thanks to our lovely friends at Pokebeach, we now have English translations and the full set list for Brilliant Stars! I can't wait for this set to hit the shelves and have picked out a few of my favourite cards to talk about and see how they might change the meta. This set is bringing more support for Water and Fire decks, and some brand new decks to enjoy with Arceus and Charizard! Let's dive right in with Kingler:
Kingler V is a great set-up Pokemon with his first attack, Bubble Fall. For one Water Energy, you get to search your deck for up to 5 Water Energy cards and attach them to your Pokemon in any way you like. This catapults Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX decks into a full set up considering each of your attacking Pokemon only need 2 energy. Kingler is more than just a set up Pokemon, too- with 2 Water Energies and a Colourless, you can hit for a solid 200 damage at the cost of 30 damage to yourself. While it's Lightning weakness may be concerning with how popular Jolteon VMAX is, you may see Jolteon fall off the map due to Manaphy:
Manaphy is your regular run of the mill bench barrier. It's ability "Wave Veil" prevents all damage done to your benched Pokemon by your opponent's Pokemon's attacks. Manaphy's one attack only does 20 damage, so it's definitely just going to be a bench sitter. It does have 1 retreat cost, so you could just attach an Air Balloon to give it free retreat if your deck needs a between knock-outs retreater. It's main worth will be in shutting down Jolteon and Rapid Strike decks as they rely on bench damage to win. You should note that this only applies to attacks- not abilities- so Quick Shooting Inteleon can still bench snipe for their 20 damage. With only 70 HP, Manaphy is fairly fragile and could get knocked out by two Inteleon in just two turns, or get knocked out by almost any attack if your opponent decides to bring it from your bench to the active with Boss's Orders. While we're on the Water Pokemon, let's check out one that's likely to see play in pretty much every deck: Lumineon V!
We've seen abilities like Lumineon's before with Tapu Lele GX and Jirachi EX- its ability allows you to search for a Supporter card when you play Lumineon from your hand onto your bench during your turn. As anyone who played in the GX formats can attest to, this card will see widespread play. Mew VMAX can now find the Elesa's Sparkle first turn. Single Strike decks gain Lumineon and Gloria to be able to get down Houndours turn 1. Being able pick out your choice of supporter is insanely powerful, from first turn set ups to late game Boss's Orders. This is also going to change how decks choose to go first or second- When Tapu Lele was in format, people would generally choose to go second to take advantage of using the Supporter Welder to get 2 Fire Energy on their Pokemon first turn. Very few decks wouldn't benefit from a nearly guaranteed supporter, especially considering we also get Ultra Ball back in this set to make finding the Lumineon early even easier:
Another old format reprint is back: Ultra Ball! When this was announced, the old gold Ultra Balls spiked in value- this is a 4 of in every deck and veteran players know it. It makes you discard 2 cards, but you can search your deck for any Pokemon. Why waste space with Level Balls and restrict yourself to only finding 90HP or less Pokemon when you can use Ultra Ball to find any? Why bother with Great Ball and risk whiffing the Pokemon off the top when you can search your entire deck for the one you want? We're going to see other ball search cards fall off considerably, but not completely, as people choose the vastly more consistent Ultra Ball to round out their decks while still playing Quick Balls. This card is even better in Mew because it gets rid of dead cards to make room for Genesect V to use its ability Fusion Strike System, allowing you to draw even more cards. Any deck that wants to get Pokemon on the field will benefit from this card, and the downside of discarding can be turned into a bonus late-game when you want to thin your hand and deck of useless cards.
Arceus V is the star of the show this set and it's honestly one of the best cards we've seen in a long time. Arceus V has the attack "Trinity Charge" for 2 Colourless energy, which allows you to search for up to 3 basic energy cards and attach them to your Pokemon V in any way you want. It also has "Power Edge" which attacks for a flat 130 damage at the cost of 3 Colourless energy. Accelerating 3 energies is incredible- I've seen people pairing this with the new Raichu V, Zacian, Ice Rider, Rayquaza and Shadow Rider. I don't think it will find a home in decks with Mew, Single Strike or Rapid Strike as they rely heavily on Special Energy, but any deck that uses primarily basic energy can benefit from an Arceus. Now, to use Trinity Charge you do need more than just a regular attachment- you're likely going to want to play the new Double Turbo energy which provides 2 energy at the cost of doing 20 damage less to opponents. Alternatively, you may see people using Marnie's Pride to provide the additional energy as it allows you to attach an energy from the discard to one of your benched Pokemon. Add in our shiny new Ultra Balls and you have an easy way to get those energies into the discard and into use.
Then we have the Arceus VSTAR! As an evolved Pokemon to be played on top of Arceus V, it will be similar to our VMAXs in terms of speed to get into play. Its attack, Trinity Nova, has the same effect as the previous Trinity Charge, except it also doles out a hefty 200 damage. Arceus VSTAR also has a new mechanic- a VSTAR Power which can only be used once per game! In this case, its the ability "Starbirth" which lets your search your deck for up to 2 cards and place them in your hand. As an Ability, you'll be able to use this at any time during your turn, meaning you can set up the perfect turn with whatever key pieces are still stuck in your deck. Will it prove better to use it early on to aid in set up and ensure you have a dominant board state early on, or will it be wiser to wait until late-game to use it and close out the match without having to dig through your deck hoping you get those last few cards to win? Every game will be different, but in the hands of a smart player this deck will be a difficult one to take down!
Let's pedal back a moment and touch base on a few of the cards we mentioned working well with Arceus. Double Turbo energy looks like it was made for this deck, as the drawback of doing 20 damage less isn't a concern to a deck that's mainly looking to just attach energy early on. I'll be honest though- I don't think Double Turbo will end up being as popular as Double Colourless was. While Arceus V may not care so much about the damage drawback, making Arceus VSTAR do 20 less damage means missing crucial knock outs. You can add the new tool Choice Belt to increase the damage done to opposing Vs by 30 damage: Arceus VSTAR+ Double Turbo + Choice Belt = 210 damage. This knocks out some threats such as Ice Rider, Mew and Jolteon, but is just a little bit too short on damage to take knock outs on Urshifus, Zacian and Duraludon. Take away the Double Turbo and you're OHKOing all regular Vs in format!
I also mentioned the Marnie's Pride, which I think will be a staple in most decks. Discard some energies early on using Ultra Ball and get them back with Marnie's Pride. Suddenly your attacker can go from not even being on the field to being completely powered up and ready to attack. The utility for this card is huge- Mew suffers to find energy late-game, but this not only gets it back, but attaches it all in one go, saving your manual attachment for the turn. Zacian benefits from Metal Saucer already, but who doesn't want an extra way to get more energy on the field? Any deck that plays non-water basic energies benefits from Marnie's Pride. Of course, if you're playing water energies you might as well go for the superior Melony to get the extra 3 cards of draw power along with the attachment. But for those of us who aren't playing water types, Marnie's Pride is the way to go.
Another beneficial card for Arceus decks is going to be Cheren's Care. It allows you to put a Colourless Pokemon with any damage counters on it back into your hand. This effectively heals all the damage off that Pokemon, and can be timed well for you to bring up another Pokemon to hit with while re-setting up the Arceus. Alternatively, you could use it to pick up our friend Bibarel:
Bibarel is another card with a very familiar ability- Industrious Incisors is the exact same as Octillery's Abyssal Hand. It says that once during your turn, you can draw cards until you have 5 in your hand. The only deck that currently makes use of Octillery is Rapid Strike decks, as it is a Rapid Strike Pokemon. I don't believe Bibarel will find its way into too many top-tier lists, but it's certainly not a bad card to consider for a deck that needs a little extra draw power! Speaking of extra draw power, here's another Pokemon we may see splashed into certain decks: Zamazenta V!
This Zamazenta V boasts the ability "Royal Stance," which says you can discard your hand and draw 5 cards, but if you do, your turn ends. Metal Pokemon are seeing more and more play lately- we all thought Zacian V had fallen out of the metagame, but it's been gaining traction and this Zamazenta will be a great addition to the deck. Duraludon VMAX decks could also make good use of an ability like this, considering they often don't attack until several turns into the game. Add in her second attack "Revenge Burst" for a Metal and two Colourless energies and you've got an incredible ability on a pretty good attacker. Revenge Burst does 120 damage plus 30 more for each Prize Card your opponent has taken. If your opponent has 2 prizes left, you'll do 240 damage which knocks out all regular Vs, getting yourself an easy 2 prizes in one hit. Not playing Zacian or Duraludon? The good news is, you don't have to play a metal deck to make use of her Ability- it reminds me of the early 2020 format where everyone played Zacian V regardless of what the rest of their deck was about, just because drawing 3 cards was such a good ability. I wouldn't be surprised to see Zamazenta V splashed into various decks for early game consistency, and have a feeling this card is going to end up surprisingly expensive.
Speaking of expensive, let's see how this new Charizard is doing, because it won't be doing my wallet any favours. People are saying this Charizard is 'actually competitive' and to be honest, at first I thought it was just hype but after seeing how much support we're getting for fire types in this set, I'm actually kind of scared that Charizard V and VSTAR might be good. And let me tell you, if a non-competitive Rainbow Charizard can push $300, I don't want to know how pricey a competitive one is going to be. Or the beautiful new Alt Art Charizard for that matter. But the most important question remains: Will it be good?
The Charizard V in Brilliant Stars has 220HP and does 90 damage for 2 Fire and a Colourless, or 180 damage for 3 Fire and a Colourless. Overall exceedingly expensive on the energy costs, considering other Pokemon can do more for less. However, I think if you're playing Charizard VSTAR, you're going to want to play the Darkness Ablaze V instead. That one will do 80 for 3 Colourless, but also 220 for two Fire and two Colourless (at the cost of discarding 2 energy.) 220 is the magic number in this game right now- hit that and you're taking knock outs on most Vs and reliably 2-hitting VMAXs. Even better is hitting VMAXs for one hit knock outs, though, which is where Charizard VSTAR comes into play:
Charizard VSTAR has a surprisingly-low 280HP compared to our current 300+HP stage-one VMAXs, but he also gives up one less prize. It's a decent trade off considering 280 is a reasonably difficult number to hit anyways. His first attack "Exploding Fire" for 2 Fire and a Colourless does 130 damage, plus 100 more if this Pokemon has any damage counters on it. His VSTAR Power is an attack called "Star Blaze" that does 320 damage, at the cost of discarding 2 energy from this Pokemon. This knocks out every card in the game except Eternatus and Copperajah, technically. If you're running into Copperajah at a tournament I don't think the 20 missing damage will be horribly consequential anyways. Even with just his first attack he's a force to be reckoned with, and a new card introduced in this set helps ensure you have those damage counters on you to hit the extra damage: Magma Basin
Magma Basin is a new Stadium card which allows you to attach a fire energy from your discard pile to one of your benched fire Pokemon, and if you do to put 2 damage counters on that Pokemon. You can see the clear synergy with Charizard, and a new supporter is also being introduced to help our fiery friend: Kindler.
Kindler says you must discard a Fire energy, then look at the top 7 cards of your deck, choose up to 2 of them and put them in your hand. Now you have energy in the discard to accelerate with Magma Basin, a large selection of cards to choose from with no restriction on which type of card you can pick, and a powered-up Charizard ready to hit for extra damage.
Many people are also using the new Arceus with Charizard, as Arceus' attack accelerates whichever energy we like to whichever Pokemon we want. Then, with the VSTAR ability we went over earlier and Arceus VSTARs attack, you have a fairly easy set up and incredibly hard hitters. Some people may also choose to pair Charizard with the SWSH Victini V - its first attack, Spreading Flames, allows you to attach 3 Fire energy from your discard to your Pokemon in any way you like. Again, with Ultra Ball in format we have an easy way to get those energies into the discard pile. Charizard may actually end up being easier to set up than its heavy attack costs and evolution chain would have indicated.
There are a handful of other cards that are worth being aware of coming into Brilliant Star's release, and while I think these cards may find a home in a deck or two, I don't think they're going to be as concerning as the rest of the cards on this list. First is Liepard, which has the ability "Trade," which says you must discard a card to use this ability, and if you do, draw 2 cards. This is a call back to Zoroark GX which had the same ability worded a little differently- the main difference between the two abilities is that with Zoroark GX you could discard a card even if you had no deck to draw from, whereas with Liepard the draw is the effect and the discarding the cost, so you cannot trade with no cards in deck. Seeing as how we already have Cinccino with effectively the same ability which doesn't see much play, I don't think Liepard will be making any waves in this meta.
We also get Raichu V which looks objectively good with Fast Charge, an attack that costs one energy and says you can use it on your first turn if you go first, and to search for a Lightning energy and attack it to this Pokemon. For two Lightning energies, it does 60 damage times the amount of Lightning energy attached to your Pokemon in play. I know some people are using this with Arceus, which is about the only card I can think of being a good match for this Raichu. We just don't have any fantastic Lightning Pokemon to pair it with in format right now- People may try to pair it with Raichu, Boltund, or the new Raikou which is just a Lightning reprint of our current Fleet Footed Suicune, but I don't think they're going to set up fast enough to handle decks like Mew, and their weaknesses to Fighting make them a poor choice in an Urshifu- heavy meta.
Speaking of Raikou, we're also gaining the Entei V which gives us all three Legendary Beasts with the same Fleet Footed ability to draw an extra card and attack that does 20+ the number of benched Pokemon for 2 energy. They could certainly be splashable in decks featuring their type- perhaps Entei will find a partner in Charizard, and maybe once Urshifu sees less play it will be a prime time for Raikou to enter the meta. These are all cards to be aware of, but I don't think they'll make much impact on the game right now.
Aside from the huge number of competitive Pokemon we've talked about here today, Brilliant Stars is also bringing us more Supporters. We're gaining Gloria, a supporter which allows you to search for up to 3 Basic Pokemon without Rule Boxes and put them onto your bench. This could be a great way for Inteleon-engine decks to get a bench full of Sobble's turn one, or Single Strike to get their Houndooms out. We're also getting Rosanne's Backup, which allows you to choose a Pokemon, Tool, Stadium, and/or Energy from your discard and shuffle them back into your deck. You could choose all four if you like! This is a great card to ensure you don't get stuck with a Stadium in play that benefits your opponent, or to find missing peices to close out the game. It also just has great general utility in any deck due to the number of options you can get back. Another supporter card, Team Yells Cheer, may find a home in some decks. It allows you to shuffle 3 of any combination of Pokemon and Supporters from your discard back into your deck. This can be beneficial to come back from a bad start with decks that rely on a Sobble engine- being able to get them back onto the field and re-use Drizzile can turn the tide of an otherwise losing game!
All of these decks we've talked about today are going to change the meta drastically once Brilliant Stars is out. Whether it's entirely new decks being built or old decks shifting to use the competitive resources in this set, it's going to be at least a few weeks of experimentation, new card combos found, and new lists to top events. I'm excited to open this set and see what I can build at Pre-Releases, and even more excited to start building new decks and testing them against others. It's a beautiful fresh new meta, and it's coming soon!