Pokémon TCG Early Opening: Brilliant Stars Booster Box
Tomorrow is pre-release weekend for the next official Pokémon TCG expansion, Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars. Collectors and players alike will be able to purchase Build & Battle kits which will include four packs of this exciting new set ahead of its full release on February 25th. To celebrate this occasion, I have something special to share today with Bleeding Cool readers thanks to The Pokémon Company International. They sent over a Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars booster box and Elite Trainer Box for me to open in exchange for a fair review. First up, let's crack into the booster box.
The Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars booster box
Pokémon TCG booster boxes themselves are a thing to behold. While I am not a sealed collector (I prefer collecting full sets in binders, and have already prepared a pristine, white Top Deck 9-pocket zip binder for my Brilliant Stars set), it's easy to see why one would want to keep one of these pristine. Value aside, the artwork on the box itself is beautiful. It uses the pack artwork of Charizard, Shaymin, Arceus, and Whimsicott to beautiful effect.
Running through all products in the Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars line is a white and gold motif, which makes these some of the most beautiful packs on the shelf. We have seen different sets deliver different vibes, from the blazing Sword & Shield – Darkness Ablaze to the royal, icy Sword & Shield – Chilling Reign, but I'd put this new expansion down as having the most beautiful pack art since Sun & Moon – Cosmic Eclipse.
Changes to the Pokémon TCG
A Pokémon TCG booster box comes with 36 packs and, if you've opened a Sword & Shield-era booster box before, you're in for a surprise. Changes have been made here. The Energy cards are different, with a unique new design. (Stay tuned for my Elite Trainer Box review for a peek at those.) There are also VSTAR markers that come as cards, replacing the Energy Cards in a slot. Largely, the VSTAR mechanic and card type replaces VMAX cards, but we do have VMAX cards in this set. They appear (in likely their final main set appearance) in the main set along with four VSTARS, as well as on Character Super Rares in the Trainer Gallery.
My first impression of the actual set is that the artwork on the cards is as strong as ever. The spread of Pokémon-V, VMAX, and VSTAR is diverse and interesting without feeling scattershot. The main chases outside of the Secret Rares and Full Arts are the new VSTARs, and I managed to pull just one and no standard VMAX. I got the Whimsicott VSTAR, and just take a look at this thing.
This close-up will show the etched texture of the card, which I think makes these a sleek and interesting replacement for VMAX. I'll be interested to see different art styles used on these as well as we move into future expansions.
The Trainer Gallery
The most exciting aspect of Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars is the Trainer Gallery. This gallery is essentially the English-language adaptation of Japan's VMAX Climax Secret Rares, which feature a long list of Character Cards which we haven't seen since Sun & Moon – Cosmic Eclipse as well as the debut of Character Super Rares, which blend the Character Card format with mechanics like Pokémon-V and VMAX. There are also Full Art Trainers and Black & Gold VMAX cards in this subset. While I, unfortunately, didn't pull any Character Super Rares, I did manage to pull four Trainer Gallery hits including three Character Cards and one Black & Gold Urshifu VMAX.
The Black & Gold Urshifu VMAX is my favorite hit of the box. The gold glitters with a grainy, rainbow texture and the black has a sleek, almost leather-like sheen.
My Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars booster box pulls
The pulls from the standard Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars set were what you'd expect from an average booster box. It wasn't a bad spread and it wasn't mindblowing, and we all know booster boxes can go either way. I pulled six Pokémon V, a Whimsicott VSTAR, a Full Art Granbull V, and a Full Art Barry. I would have been satisfied there, but this is where Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars becomes an all-time great opening experience.
The Trainer Gallery, as many collectors hoped including myself, features cards that can be pulled in the Reverse Holo slot. That means I added four major hits to my booster box pulls. It cannot be understated how much this elevates the excitement of opening this product. I love when sets have a dynamic slot in the reverse holo, whether it be Shiny cards, Amazing Rares, Prism Stars, BREAK cards, and beyond. I personally find Character Cards, which showcase the bond between Pokémon and trainer, to be the best style of card to pull in that slot, though. From the artwork to the storytelling to the emotional poignancy of certain pairs, these new Character Cards dramatically elevate the already strong Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars set for me.
When they are available, I recommend everyone get out there and get a booster box of Pokémon TCG's latest set, Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars. I'm already eager to crack into my next box. Stay tuned for my Elite Trainer Box review as well.
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