Astral Radiance GLC Set Review

One of the most exciting aspects of the Pokémon Trading Card Game is keeping up with new card releases. Every few months, players will have to consider how these new cards will affect their play style and deck construction – whether they’re adding new cards to their lists or finding ways to play around their opponents’ changes. Similarly to how we did with Brilliant Stars, we’re going to look at the Sword & Shield — Astral Radiance set (out May 27, 2022) and see what new options each type might gain!

Grass: Kricketune

Grass might be the type that has changed the least over the course of Gym Leader Challenge’s first year. Other than the addition of Grotle and Torterra in Brilliant Stars, Grass has mostly revolved around flooding the board with energy from Venusaur SLG and Rillaboom SSH and attacking with big Basic Pokémon like Shining Genesect SLG and Zarude VIV. But Kricketune may enable a new flavor of Grass to compete in GLC. Alongside Leavanny TEU (which reduces damage done to your Grass-type Pokémon by 40), players may try experimenting with a tanky build of Grass, utilizing the many Grass-type attackers which can also heal themselves or Trainer cards like Pokémon Center Lady and Pot Helmet to increase their longevity further.

Water: Hisuian Basculin & Hisuian Basculegion

Many Water players currently include Alolan Vulpix GRI in their decks for consistency. Being able to retrieve Pokémon from the deck for zero energy is very powerful, especially on the first turn of the game going second. Hisuian Basculin fills a very similar role, being able to search out Pokémon with a zero energy attack as well. It is notable, however, that each of these setup Pokémon has a unique niche: Alolan Vulpix can search out Evolution Pokémon to be played the following turn, whereas Hisuian Basculin can place Pokémon onto the Bench so that they can be evolved on the following turn. Expect to see Water decks running one or maybe both of these powerful setup Pokémon.

Unlike Alolan Vulpix, however, Hisuian Basculin has a useful evolution for a more versatile game plan. Hisuian Basculegion has the powerful Grudging Dive attack, reminiscent of Kangaskhan DAA’s Rally Back or Druddigon BRS’s Revenge. For just one energy, Hisuian Basculegion can retaliate after one of its fellow Water Pokémon is Knocked Out, giving an additional use to your Hisuian Basculin after it’s set your board up. It’s also worth noting that the mere existence of Hisuian Basculegion can threaten your opponent: they know that if they gust around your Hisuian Basculin, you may bring it right back up to enact its vengeance on your opponent. So Hisuian Basculin may end up becoming a sacrifice for your stronger attackers — very fitting for this ghostly Pokémon!

Psychic: Gallade

A strong consistency engine is crucial for every GLC deck. Some types, like Colorless, have many Pokémon whose Abilities can draw or search from the deck. Other types which lack these support Pokémon have to make do by building decks with a high count of draw Supporters. With Gallade ASR, Psychic trainers can combine both strategies in an elegant way. With the same effect as Dragonite TEU’s Fast Call, Gallade’s Buddy Catch is a great way to continue churning through your deck by picking out draw Supporters, ensuring that you never dead-draw. Gallade is not just used for consistency, however. Players can select crucial tech Supporters to enable more reactive game plans, like a well-timed Hex Maniac to stop the opponent from powering up their next attacker or boosting an attack into KO range with Leon on just the right turn. In addition to this very strong Ability, Gallade has a great attack, too, which synergizes with Dimension Valley and multi-energies like Counter Energy or Double Colorless Energy if you choose to run them. Additionally, players can consider including Gardevoir in their Psychic decks alongside Gallade. One can imagine deciding between either Stage 2 Pokémon to evolve Kirlia into, depending on whether the situation calls for consistency or power. Decisions, decisions!

Fighting: Hisuian Arcanine

Hisuian Arcanine joins a large pool of powerful Stage 1 Fighting-type attackers for GLC trainers to consider. Fighting-type trainers will notice that Hisuian Arcanine exhibits great synergy with Coalossal RCL. With the help of Coalossal’s Ability and one manual attachment, Hisuian Arcanine can deal 180 damage, after Burn, knocking out nearly any Pokemon in GLC. While Fighting trainers are pretty split on whether they should play Coalossal to accelerate energy, this powerful option in Hisuian Arcanine might sway some trainers into including the Coal Pokémon in their decks going forward.

Darkness: Mightyena

GLC trainers who also play Standard format may already be aware of Mightyena, a Stage 1 Pokémon that can easily KO Mew VMAX, the star of Standard’s most oppressive deck. However, this card can still prove powerful in GLC, a format with no Mew VMAX in sight. Mightyena’s Hustle Bark Ability won’t activate for Darkness GLC trainers, but that doesn’t detract from its powerful Wild Tackle attack. Especially with Double Colorless Energy/Twin Energy compatibility (or even Triple Acceleration Energy if you’re feeling brave), Mightyena is easier to power up than one might expect. Darkness is a type that generally lacks high damage output before modifiers, so Mightyena can provide an additional dimension to Darkness trainers’ toolboxes.

Dragon: Regidrago

Dragon Pokémon are some of the most difficult to tame in GLC, due to their limited consistency options and conflicting attack costs. The new Regidrago in Astral Radiance may be a way for trainers to address both of these issues. Regidrago’s Ability allows trainers to draw up to four cards in their hand when it’s in the Active Spot, making it a great starting option for the early game as players establish their boards or allowing for some mid- and late-game consistency as you pivot Regidrago with Float Stone. And its attack has a slightly more manageable cost than Regidrago EVS, allowing it to fit into more configurations of Dragon GLC decks. While Dragon will remain a type that only the bravest GLC trainers will attempt to master, this new Regidrago card may make the journey a bit easier.

Colorless: Ursaluna

In many Colorless attacking decks, Slaking CES is the king of big, beefy, mammalian Stage 2 Pokémon, boasting a strong 160-damage attack for three energy. But the new Pokémon Ursaluna will challenge Slaking for that title thanks to its powerful and efficient Massive Slam attack. With Porygon-Z UNB’s Crazy Code Ability, and powerful Special Energy cards like Recycle Energy and Twin Energy, the downside of Ursaluna’s attack may prove to be easier to deal with than Slaking’s. And while Ursaluna doesn’t have the same Lazy Ability as Slaking, it does have a useful first attack, Peat Hunt, allowing it to recurse cards from the Discard — including the Special Energies that this deck utilizes so heavily. Colorless trainers face a tough decision with Astral Radiance: should they play Slaking, Ursaluna, or maybe even both?

Trainers

Now let’s take a look at some of the new Trainer cards that players may want to include in their decks.

Irida

Unlike her Diamond Clan counterpart Adaman, who follows in the footsteps of weaker Supporters like Crasher Wake, Irida will remind trainers of powerful cards like Korrina and Volkner. Searching out any Pokémon from the deck is a great effect to have in a deck with consistency Pokémon like Drizzile, Inteleon, and Octillery. And with any Item card alongside this, trainers can unlock a myriad of powerful plays: Rare Candy to evolve their Blastoise, Capacious Bucket to charge up an attacker, Revive to recover a key Pokémon — see just how many ways Irida can power up your strategies in Water Gym Leader Challenge!

Roxanne

Right now, it seems like most GLC players build their decks to be as aggressive as possible — prioritizing strong draw Supporters, powerful attackers, and few disruption options for the mid- and late-game. But Roxanne may offer a different play style to trainers in Astral Radiance. Roxanne works similarly to Marnie or N in trying to set your opponent to a worse new hand than yours. But it’s notable just how strong this difference is. Forcing your opponent down to just two cards anywhere in the second half of the game is a very powerful effect and can even create some new combos in GLC – you can combine this with Galarian Perrserker VIV’s Stealy Claws attack or Hatterene RCL’s Mind Hat Ability to slow your opponent down.

Hisuian Heavy Ball

Prizing is one of the most interesting aspects of GLC in my opinion – I wrote a whole article on the subject. And Hisuian Heavy Ball is an exciting new way for players to manage this dimension of the game. This card is a great middle ground between Gladion and Town Map – taking cards directly from the prizes without having to play your Supporter for turn can be very powerful, but only being able to grab Basic Pokémon can be limiting. This card will probably see play in decks that have some very powerful Basic attackers —think Dragon and Grass— or maybe in decks like Metal or Fighting, which might start the game from behind and can’t easily take prizes early on.

Jubilife Village

One of the biggest strengths of Gym Leader Challenge is its affordability — decks are constructed of Common, Uncommon, and Rare cards, generally stay under $50 USD, and can share more expensive pieces like Colress between lists if players are really stretching their budgets. But there is an exception to this rule: Tropical Beach, the most expensive card in Gym Leader Challenge. The original prints of this card, which were only given out to World Championship competitors as recently as a decade ago, are hundreds of dollars per copy nowadays, and the World Championship Deck promos (with the different card backings), while much cheaper at around $30 USD, are not easy to find anymore. But Jubilife Village is the perfect solution for players who have concerns about Tropical Beach. It boasts a very similar effect —a superior effect, in some situations— and will be less than a dollar once Astral Radiance releases. Especially with a gold secret rare printing for bling points, Jubilife Village checks all the same boxes as Tropical Beach for a fraction of the cost.

Gardenia’s Vigor

Gardenia’s Vigor is a new Supporter card that should help cement Grass as one of the strongest types in GLC. It already has two of the best energy acceleration engines in the format: Voltage Beat Rillaboom (SSH 14) and Cherrim (BST 8) with Eldegoss (EVS 16). However they might struggle to accelerate energy if the Basics, Grookey or Cherubi or Gossifleur, are prized or if the opponent is playing an Ability blocking Pokémon or Hex Maniac. Gardenia’s Vigor lets you draw two cards and then attach up to two grass energy from hand to a Benched Pokémon. This gives them a non-Pokémon option for pumping more energy into play. In some ways it is better and worse than fire’s Welder – Welder drew three cards and could also attach to the Active Pokémon. However, Welder needed the energy to be in the player’s hand already and could not be used without it. Gardenia’s Vigor can be played even without energy in hand. It is never a dead card: draw two cards, if one finds energy, it can be accelerated.

Dragon type trainers should also be excited about Gardenia’s Vigor! Dragon decks often suffer from not being able to find and attach the correct types of energy to attack. With Professor’s Letter to search for grass energy, Gardenia’s Vigor can be used to charge up Regidrago (EVS 124) or the new one from Astral Radiance and do huge amounts of damage in one turn!

Grant & Gutsy Pickaxe

Astral Radiance brings two very powerful Trainer cards for Fighting Gym Leaders to look at, a type many would consider to be one of the weaker types in GLC.

First we have Grant, a Supporter that boosts your Pokémon’s damage, similar to Leon. But what’s notable about Grant is the second half of its effect: if Grant is in your Discard pile, you can discard two cards from your hand and then choose to recover Grant from the Discard at any point. This allows you to get rid of it early and bring it back later. This makes Grant unique in that it’s much more consistent than other damage modifiers which have to show up at exactly the right time. Considering Leon and other modifier cards like Choice Band and Martial Arts Dojo, Fighting trainers may consider a build which focuses more on speed and consistency, allowing these Trainer cards to boost the damage of its attackers up to acceptable levels. Further, it also helps to thin the hand to use Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick by allowing you to discard two cards from your hand on any turn. This means it is now easier to bring stage 2 pokémon like Coalossal RCL into play faster. Or it can help to set up  support pokémon like Gallade BKT or Seismitoad CEC, which were so far impossible to set up without Dream Ball.

The other card for Fighting trainers to look at is Gutsy Pickaxe. With a similar effect to Judge Whistle, effectively reducing your deck size to 59 cards, Gutsy Pickaxe provides a slight bit of consistency. But the ability of Gutsy Pickaxe to accelerate energy from the deck is its real power and can be combo’d with cards that can stack the topdeck like Lunatone PLB or Rotom Phone. One could even go further and look at cards like Max Elixir, which have a similar effect, giving Fighting a sort of turbo energy acceleration flavor. Even if trainers don’t fully build around this card, the chance to get a free energy acceleration for just one Item card will surely make this an easy addition to Fighting lists.

And that’s Astral Radiance! The set releases on May 27, 2022. To view all the cards (including the Fire, Lightning, and Metal cards which weren’t notable enough to include here), check out the full setlist on JustInBasil. Make sure to check out Trick Gym on Twitch – on May 29 you can see these cards in action at the Full Grip Games GLC $2,500 USD cash prize event all day long!

5 thoughts on “Astral Radiance GLC Set Review

  1. TwinVXC

    The Overqwil gonna do work in GLC Poison, too. There are dozens of us, who play it. Dozens!

  2. Maximus

    Very excited for the new reginald drago. The fact that the attack isn’t 240- means that it won’t immediately become useless after being hit. And the draw power is very nice 😉

  3. Holler

    Didn’t even notice some of these cards in the set! Like that Ursaluna? That’s WILD, Junk Hint AND a biiiiiiig hitting attack!

Comments are closed.