Spiritual Successors Galore — A Brilliant Stars Set Review
Hello everyone! It’s finally time for a new set! I am cautiously optimistic that Brilliant Stars is a step in the right direction when it comes to improving the Standard format, which is currently terrible in my opinion. The first main problem with the current format is its speed, and consequently the importance of the opening coin flip. The format is too fast and games end too quickly. Mew VMAX is a symptom of this, but not necessarily the cause — I’m hoping that strong single-Prize Pokemon, as well as the addition of Pokemon VSTAR, will not only slow this format down, if only slightly, but potentially even increase the relevance of player skill.
The second main problem with the format is the oppressive gatekeeping of snipe attackers such as Jolteon VMAX and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX. I’m fairly confident that the new Manaphy is a hard solution to this problem, which makes me extremely happy.
As with any set, there are some obvious winners and some other cards that are a bit more uncertain. There’s no way to tell exactly how the cards will integrate into the current format until it actually happens, but we can draw on experience and critical thinking to make highly educated guesses. In this article, I’ll be going over the new cards from Brilliant Stars, and I’ll only be discussing ones that I think might be playable in a competitive environment. I may make some passing references to GLC, but won’t be covering cards that are exclusively good in that format, such as Torterra.
Anyway, let’s get into the set.
This set is full of spiritual successors and reprints, and Wormadam is the first of these. Reminiscent of Vespiquen, this card looks like it could have potential right off the bat. In Expanded, Wormadam gets access to Battle Compressor, Dedenne-GX, and Parallel City, and in exchange for Vespiquen’s free Retreat Cost, Wormadam gains a few notable benefits; more HP, and capable of ten more damage, both of which can be helpful from time to time.
Most importantly, Wormadam comes in three different types — the best of these is definitely Fighting, which is historically an incredible anti-meta type, however, with Mad Party existing in Expanded, it’s hard to imagine Wormadam outclassing it. That being said, in some particular meta, Wormadam can find itself a spot due to its advantages such as typing and extra HP.
In Standard, Wormadam may be able to function thanks to Ultra Ball coming back in this set. It would have to be built like a toolbox in order to handle Mew VMAX, so it would be looking for some Darkness-type tech Pokemon as Wormadam alone cannot handle Mew. Wormadam’s Fighting-type will be able to crush the likes of Arceus VSTAR, and Manaphy can protect against sniping threats. Between Grass and Fighting, Wormadam is poised to handle any sort of Darkness-types as well — I will definitely try out Wormadam in Standard, and it’s a flexible attacker that is worth keeping an eye on for future formats as well. It’s also possible for Wormadam itself to be included as a tech in some decks that already would play Twin Energy, Double Turbo Energy, or some form of Energy acceleration.
Charizard VSTAR takes a bit of work to set up, but it’s achievable with the new Magma Basin Stadium card, which can accelerate a Fire Energy. Charizard VSTAR’s first attack does 230 damage, which is reasonable to use on turn two thanks to Magma Basin — turn-two 230 damage is ridiculously good. Keep in mind, this guy is a two-Prize Pokemon with 280 HP… Even without a VSTAR Power, I think this card would be good.
The VSTAR Power is a little bit absurd, dealing a flat 320 damage, which will take out most Pokemon VMAX in one shot. The only thing I’m unsure about here is if Magma Basin alone is enough for Energy acceleration. If your first Charizard VSTAR goes down which has a lot of resources invested in it, the deck may not have any follow-up, but perhaps Melony could be used as alternate acceleration, or Entei V could be a low-maintenance partner for it.
Charizard VSTAR will definitely make use of the Shady Dealings Inteleon engine. Shady Dealings finds the combo pieces to build up Charizard VSTAR, and Quick Shooting can clean up numbers on the few Pokemon VMAX that can actually survive that meaty Star Blaze. It also makes sense to have Entei V in the deck, not only as a low-maintenance fallback option but also as an efficient attacker to deal with Pokemon that you don’t need Charizard VSTAR’s nukes for.
Moltres is an interesting new card that basically only works alongside Magma Basin.
90 damage for one Energy is undoubtedly good, but I think there’s a high chance that this card might be too situational, but I could see it combo’ing with Charizard VSTAR. Charizard VSTAR’s regular attack does 230, which makes for a nice duo against Pokemon VMAX with Moltres’s 90 damage.
Overall, this card is meta-dependent, and it may rotate in and out of Magma Basin variants — if you’re able to attack with Moltres on turn one it’s godlike, but that requires too much luck to pull off consistently. Aside from that, 90 on turn two is sometimes too slow.
Entei V is copy-paste Suicune V, which has already proven itself to be a great card on its own.
Aside from being a potential partner for Charizard VSTAR, Entei V will definitely develop its own build that replicates Suicune V / Inteleon / Ludicolo.
Entei V’s advantage is that it has Magma Basin, which allows it to more freely use Boss's Orders and Professor's Research, whereas Suicune V is more reliant on Melony and Raihan. Entei V will have to work around Magma Basin’s restriction to Bench attachments as well as its Retreat Cost of three, but I’m sure it will be a strong archetype.
I want to play control in Standard as much as anyone, but Floatzel isn’t it. This effect on a Stage 1 has been printed a few times before, but it’s never good enough — you may as well play Seaking in Standard! Floatzel is slow, hard to chain, and its recovery effect simply isn’t good enough to beat stuff in the format. It might, however, be usable in Expanded where the Items are way stronger, and it gives a control option to Water in GLC.
Lumineon V is a fantastic card to have in the format, giving consistency and flexibility to any deck that may not already have a built-in engine. Of course, Fusion Strike and Shady Dealings builds have no use for it, but just about anything else might appreciate the option.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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