Astral Radiance Pokemon TCG Set Breakdown & Hands-On Impressions
The Sword and Shield era of the Pokemon TCG has been an interesting one, with plenty of high points, including Evolving Skies and Brilliant Stars, and just as many lows, with the likes of Rebel Clash and Battle Styles. Now, we’re just a couple of weeks away from the next set, Astral Radiance, and we at DualShockers were lucky enough to get a Booster Box and Elite Trainer Box to preview from The Pokemon Company.
Astral Radiance is the first set from the TCG to focus on the recently released Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which in theory, gave it plenty to work with.
There is plenty of new locations, items and characters, plus a handful of Pokemon that made their debut in the ambitious title.
But does this make Astral Radiance a good set? Let’s take a look at the product, the cards and my pulls and see just how good it is.
Astral Radiance embraces its Legends: Arceus roots, with both Dialga and Palkia and the three starters as the featured Pokemon on the booster box and pack art. Although they are some pretty solid Pokemon, it feels like Astral Radiance’s design doesn’t do enough to stand out.
Compared to the last three sets, which all had very unique looks, AR is far more generic. That being said, the Elite Trainer Box is a banger.
The red and black box featuring Darkrai is by far the best looking product in the set but it does feel a little out of place.
Card List & Set Size
Astral Radiance comes in at 216 cards in the main set, with a further 30 in the Trainer Gallery subset, about 40 cards more than its predecessor.
It comes packed with some solid chase cards, including the alternate arts, which include Machamp, Beedrill, Dialga and Palkia, plus some really nice full arts. That being said, it also feels like there’s quite a lot of filler.
It contains the most rainbow rare cards since Chilling Reign (18) and a further nine gold cards, none of which are particularly impressive.
The Trainer Gallery cards equally aren’t as exciting as Brilliant Stars. There are some great ones, including the Legendary Birds, Garchomp, Starmie and Hoothoot but there’s not much to shout about with the rest.
Pulls and Pull Rate
As always, it should be noted that this is a relatively small sample size, however, from 44 packs (one Booster Box and one Elite Trainer Box), it’s slightly disappointing that arguably the best pull was a Rainbow Rare Trainer card, and not even one of the good ones.
Starting with the booster box, my pulls were fine. It was cool to pull all three starter Pokemon’s VSTAR cards and a Rainbow Rare trainer is okay, but it’s just not as exciting as the elusive alternate art cards, or even some of the full art cards.
Alongside that, it looks like each Booster Box will contain four special cards in the reverse holo spot. I pulled three (average) Trainer Gallery Cards and one of the new Radiant cards in Hawlucha. There was also the standard smattering of V pulls. I think the Kleavor V is one of the worst looking I’ve seen.
The ETB definitely had a better hit-per-pack ratio with three Trainer Gallery cards making an appearance. The Starmie is definitely one of the better ones and Gardevoir is cool too. Still, there are no super exciting pulls in here.
When all is said and done, although it pales in comparison to some of the more recent sets, Astral Radiance still sits as a mid-tier SWSH expansion. The alt arts and Trainer Gallery ensure the set is significantly better than the likes of Rebel Clash, SWSH Base, Battle Styles and Darkness Ablaze.
The problem it will likely face is the imminent release of the Pokemon GO set, with players and collectors likely to save their money for this.