The Pokémon Company recently released one of the latest official expansions as part of the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). Read on below to learn more:
Pokémon TCG Triple Play: Radiant Greninja from Sword & Shield—Astral Radiance
Discover the multiple ways to make this powerful Pokémon shine in battle.
Introduced in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield—Astral Radiance expansion, Radiant Pokémon are powerful Basic Pokémon that come with a caveat: You can only play a single Radiant Pokémon in your deck. Powerful cards with similar requirements have been seen in the past: Ace Spec cards debuted in Black & White—Boundaries Crossed, and Prism Star cards were first seen in Sun & Moon—Ultra Prism. The exact constraints differ slightly from era to era, but the general principle is the same: these cards can provide a significant advantage when utilized well, so their use needs to be carefully controlled.
Radiant Greninja is one of the three Radiant Pokémon debuting in Sword & Shield—Astral Radiance, and it’s shaping up to be a strong card in the metagame. Its Concealed Cards Ability allows you to discard any Energy card and draw two cards. Concealed Cards provides great support for decks that synergize with Energy in the discard pile.
The greatness doesn’t stop there—for two Water Energy and a Colorless Energy, Radiant Greninja can attack with Moonlight Shuriken. This attack does 90 damage to two of your opponent’s Pokémon for the price of discarding 2 Energy attached to Radiant Greninja. This attack is incredible for decks that can make use of it, both in setting up Knock Outs on bulkier Pokémon and in picking off vulnerable Pokémon on the Bench.
To showcase just how powerful this card can be, we’ve asked three Pokémon TCG experts to put together three distinct decks that leverage the strengths of Radiant Greninja. Read their strategies and then try out this awesome Pokémon in your next deck!
Usually, a key part of creating a Pokémon TCG deck is having a central strategy that can be executed reliably game-after-game—with 60 cards, it’s hard to do too many crazy things! That makes building around a Pokémon that you can only include one of like Radiant Greninja a particularly interesting challenge. Inherently, there are some problems: What if it’s Knocked Out? What if it’s in the Prize Cards? Radiant Greninja can’t be a core attacker on its own; it’s best equipped to serve as a supporter to a different, larger strategy.
When I see Radiant Greninja, the first thing that jumps out is its Concealed Cards Ability. This is an Ability we’ve seen before, and it’s a good one for both thinning cards out of your own deck and for drawing new ones—discard-one-to-draw-two is a powerful effect. While it most recently appeared on Liepard, this effect is most famous for its appearance on Zoroark-GX, which ruled the Standard format for most of the time it was permitted. Radiant Greninja is obviously a little different; being a Basic Pokémon makes the effect a lot easier to use quickly, but its requirement of an Energy card makes using it consistently a lot more difficult.
At least for the moment, I’m not super impressed with Moonlight Shuriken. While the Standard format currently does have a variety of options for accelerating Water Energy, the two Water and one Colorless cost is nevertheless a bit discouraging. Plus, Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX is among the Standard foes that makes Manaphy a reasonably popular inclusion these days, rendering Moonlight Shuriken much worse. However, as long as Drizzile is around, having the ability to remove two of your opponent’s Sobble or Drizzile from play at once will be quite exciting. It’s a limited application, but that’s okay: the Ability makes Radiant Greninja broadly useful, especially in any deck that wants to use Energy from the discard pile.
With an eye toward the current Standard format, Darkness is a good type to have for Weakness purposes, so I’ve chosen to work with a Pokémon that thrives on Energy being in the discard pile: Galarian Moltres! Galarian Moltres V quite enjoys having Darkness Energy in the discard pile as things are, but with Dark Patch making its return, that effect is only going to grow. Galarian Moltres is one of my favorite cards right now, especially in combination with Klara, which takes advantage of the discard, too! All-in-all, things start to take shape:
We’re looking for speed here, so attack as soon as possible! We’ll need to discard a lot of cards beforehand, but with Direflame Wings, Dark Patch, and Energy Switch, there’s a lot of capacity to get attacks rolling quite promptly. Raihan helps keep things moving, facilitating back-to-back Galarian Moltres V attacks with ease. 190 isn’t a world-changing amount of damage, but Darkness weakness is popular these days so it’s still viable.
Other attackers include Hoopa V, which helps cover Psychic Weakness, and Galarian Moltres, which, as I mentioned, is a personal favorite for its versatility and ability to effectively trade Prize cards with the larger Pokémon V in the format. I considered Hoopa, but there’s not a ton of flexibility to switch around, so I left it out here.
So, how does Radiant Greninja fit in? Foremost, it helps facilitate that early Energy acceleration by discarding Energy and getting more cards in our hand to work with. Later in the game, it’s entirely plausible that threatening a Moonlight Shuriken could help clean up leftover damage on a Pokémon V that suffered an earlier Aura Burn, or perhaps make some low-HP Basic Pokémon depart the game before they manage to evolve. In most games, though, I think Radiant Greninja will primarily be around for Concealed Cards.
Trainers comprise the majority of this deck, and all of them are centered around attacking as quickly as possible. Trekking Shoes isn’t the type of card I normally like to use very much, but when so much of the deck is expendable, it’s perfect for finding things we want while discarding Energy at the same time! Dark Patch and Energy Switch are both dedicated to the mission of getting more Energy in play and getting it to the correct location. I particularly like that the deck can—with Raihan, Dark Patch, Energy Switch, and Direflame Wings—power up any of its attackers out of nowhere. When I’m developing a strategy, I find that sort of nimbleness is a valuable trait, and this deck has about as much as could be asked for. Even Radiant Greninja can surprise with a Raihan, Energy Switch, and Energy attachment in a single turn—and a surprise Moonlight Shuriken is almost certainly the best Moonlight Shuriken!
Temple of Sinnoh violates one of my cardinal beliefs: Stadium cards with passive effects are generally quite bad! If your opponent has a whole turn to find a new Stadium and render your card entirely useless, it’s usually not something I want to spend a deck spot on. In this case, with Special Energy playing such an important role in the format, and with the fact that we really don’t like Path to the Peak (so we already need to play some Stadiums of our own), I’m making an exception with Temple of Sinnoh. Training Court is our other pick because it helps get the Water Energy back in a pinch.
Aura Burn might be a bit under the damage level we need at the end of the day to win a lot in the Standard format, but I think this deck (especially alongside Xander and Robin’s efforts) does a great job of showcasing the roles Radiant Greninja can play. Like Pokémon Prism Star that came before them, I’m confident that Radiant Pokémon will have an important role to play in the Standard format for the next few years. While Radiant Greninja is already quite strong, I’m excited to explore the other Radiant Pokémon in Sword & Shield—Astral Radiance (and perhaps future expansions as well)!
Radiant Greninja is a fantastic new card that will be seen in plenty of different decks because of its excellent Concealed Cards Ability. Pretty much any deck that benefits from getting Energy into the discard pile will want to include a Radiant Greninja.
As good as its Ability is, Radiant Greninja does also have a very strong attack, so I wanted to build a deck that makes great use of that aspect. Of course, with Radiant Pokémon being limited to one copy per deck, that’s a bit of a challenge! To make it happen, I’ve decided to pair it up with one of Eevee’s evolutions from Sword & Shield—Evolving Skies.
Vaporeon VMAX has a lot of synergy with Radiant Greninja. Its Bubble Pod attack can recover our single Radiant Greninja from the discard pile and attach all the Energy it needs to attack on the following turn. Max Torrent is the perfect follow-up to a Moonlight Shuriken attack, dealing 200 damage to a Pokémon that already has damage on it. The two attacks add up to 290 damage, which is enough to knock out any Pokémon VSTAR!
The obvious problem is that using Bubble Pod is rather slow, due to it being an attack. This is where Cheryl comes into play—if Vaporeon VMAX can take a hit after the attack and then be fully healed, we can essentially use Bubble Pod for free!
So, our general strategy will be the following: Use Vaporeon VMAX to recycle Energy onto Radiant Greninja, use Cheryl to remove any damage the opponent did during their turn, attack with Radiant Greninja, and then repeat. While doing so, set up a second Vaporeon VMAX for big Knock Outs where needed. A card that is very important for this strategy is Tower of Waters. Since Vaporeon VMAX is a Rapid Strike Pokémon, it can retreat for free while the Stadium card is in play, which allows us to switch in our other Pokémon after using Bubble Pod.
Another important support card I’ve decided to include is Altaria. Cheryl is a key part of the strategy, so we want a way to access it reliably when needed. Altaria’s Tempting Tune Ability, when combined with Radiant Greninja’s Concealed Cards Ability, can put Cheryl or any other Supporter card we want from the deck right into our hand.
This engine around Altaria and Radiant Greninja makes it possible to run a very diverse lineup of Supporter cards for different kinds of situations. Professor’s Research is the main draw Supporter of the deck and helps to set up Bubble Pod. Zinnia’s Resolve and Allister are two additional options for drawing cards while setting up the discard pile. Nessa is used to recover Water Energy for continued use of Radiant Greninja’s Ability. Raihan might seem a bit redundant at first, but it makes it possible to set up an attacker without the use of Bubble Pod and makes the deck more flexible in that way. Lastly, Bird Keeper gives us another switching effect, while Boss’s Orders is simply a good card in any deck.
The inclusion of a Pal Pad makes it possible to get even more use out of our Supporter cards or recover them after being discarded by an early Professor’s Research. We don’t need all the resources in our deck to close out the game, but we’ll always be discarding a lot of cards in the early game, so it’s nice to have a fallback in case too many of our Cheryl cards find their way into the discard pile.
Besides the already mentioned Supporter cards, the deck has four of both Quick Ball and Ultra Ball for finding our Pokémon and setting up Bubble Pod. After depleting our hand with all these cards, we can use Snorlax, the last Pokémon in this deck list, to let us draw right back up to seven cards! Ideally, we want to be using its Gormandize Ability for the first turn or two, and then, once it’s Knocked Out, proceed with our main strategy around Vaporeon VMAX and Radiant Greninja.
Rounding out our draw-and-search engine are a few copies each of Evolution Incense, Capacious Bucket, and Trekking Shoes, cards that help us find the cards we need and that draw through the deck faster. In particular, Capacious Bucket is great because it guarantees us an Energy attachment and the use of Radiant Greninja’s Ability at the same time.
Radiant Greninja is very important for this deck, both as an attacker in combination with Vaporeon VMAX and as part of the consistency engine with Altaria, so having it end up as a Prize card is a significant problem. This is why the deck includes a Hisuian Heavy Ball, which can pull Radiant Greninja out of the Prize cards and back into play. Unfortunately, we can’t search it out of the deck because it’s an Item card, but our odds of finding it when needed while drawing a lot of cards in the early game aren’t bad.
One card I haven’t mentioned yet is Elemental Badge. It allows Vaporeon VMAX to attack for one less Energy, which means Bubble Pod can be used for free. It’s not completely necessary for executing our strategy, but it does have great synergy with Cheryl and makes the repeated healing and attacking much easier than it would be otherwise.
Overall, I think this is an interesting deck with a unique playstyle. Admittedly, it has some issues. Vaporeon VMAX’s 320 HP are a lot, but despite that there are numerous decks that can deliver a Knock Out in a single attack, which renders Cheryl useless against them and makes it almost impossible for us to win. Manaphy is another big problem, as its Wave Veil Ability makes it impossible for our Radiant Greninja to set up damage on benched Pokémon. Decks with a high count of Boss’s Orders can also make it difficult to effectively use the Bubble Pod strategy. Despite all that, I think this a very fun deck to play with, and one that can be very effective under the right circumstances!
Here, I’ll highlight a deck that makes use of both of Radiant Greninja’s aspects. I use the Inteleon line from Sword & Shield for its powerful Shady Dealings Ability. Moreover, it functions as a strong attacker. Frosmoth, also from Sword & Shield, provides Energy acceleration for the deck’s powerful Water-type attackers, such as Crabominable V, Starmie V, and Radiant Greninja.
This deck is teeming with Water-type Pokémon. Most decks that utilize Inteleon and its pre-evolved forms play very little Water Energy (if any), so they can rarely make use of its attack. However, Aqua Bullet is one of the strongest attacks here! This deck plays like a single-Prize attacker deck when you’re not using Starmie V or Crabominable V to score a big Knock Out. The Trainer cards are slotted out with Pokémon-searching Items, including the new Hisuian Heavy Ball, which can retrieve important prized Pokémon. With Capacious Bucket, you can quickly search out the required Energy for your attacking Pokémon.
Radiant Greninja is one of the deck’s primary attackers, but its attack is normally too slow to power up manually. With Frosmoth, you can put Radiant Greninja on the Bench and attack in the same turn. Moonlight Shuriken lets you take multiple Prize cards in the same turn or set up for future Knock Outs in subsequent turns. Perhaps the strongest and most underrated card is Nessa, which can retrieve up to 4 Water-type Pokémon and Energy cards, in any combination. With a single Nessa, you can retrieve Radiant Greninja and three Water Energy cards, which is enough to attack from scratch that turn.
The other attackers are good in the right situation. For example, Crabominable V works best when paired with an already damaged Pokémon. This can be accomplished by using Abilities such as Tantrum Head or Quick Shooting, or by attacks such as Aqua Bullet and Moonlight Shuriken. Starmie V requires less setup but has its damage output determined by the opponent. Energy Spiral is incredibly strong against decks that require many Energy in play, but is quite mediocre against other decks.
One pesky Pokémon that can put a halt to Radiant Greninja’s effectiveness is Manaphy from Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars. Its Ability protects Benched Pokémon from damaging attacks, which severely dampens the power of Moonlight Shuriken. A common way of dealing with support Pokémon is with Boss’s Orders. However, Manaphy’s Ability protects Benched Pokémon while it’s the Active Pokémon. This is where Canceling Cologne, a new Item card, comes in. When played, your opponent’s Active Pokémon doesn’t have an Ability, which allows you to damage Benched Pokémon. However, with this card you can both Knock Out Manaphy while dealing damage to a Benched Pokémon simultaneously! The combination of Boss’s Orders, Canceling Cologne, and Moonlight Shuriken is incredibly powerful.
This deck is a handful to pick up initially. To succeed, you’ll need to plan out your attacks a turn or two in advance. Start with Keep Calling to set up Sobble for Drizzile. Snom is also an important Pokémon to put on your Bench so that you can threaten to attack with an immediately powered-up Pokémon. Ideally, you’re either attacking with Inteleon via Rare Candy, or with a powerful Basic Pokémon with multiple Energy on the next turn. From there, you’ll need to trade Prize cards favorably using your non-Pokémon V.
Frosmoth plus Nessa is a strong combination that lets you overcome the Radiant Pokémon limit. With Inteleon and Galarian Zigzagoon, you can easily score Knock Outs all over the opponent’s board. If you’re looking for a deck that can use Moonlight Shuriken multiple times in consecutive turns, look no further than this one!
Christopher Schemanske is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He’s been playing the Pokémon TCG since 2010, with a streak of Worlds invitations between 2012–2018. Nowadays, he enjoys splitting his Pokémon time between playing and being part of the awesome Professor staff teams at major events.
Robin Schulz is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He has been competing in Pokémon tournaments for 10 years and was the Pokémon TCG Masters Division World Champion in 2018. He spends a lot of time traveling and competing, and he rarely misses a big event. Aside from playing Pokémon, he attends university, where he is studying mathematics.
Xander Pero is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He was an avid fan even before discovering sanctioned tournaments in 2009. He formerly traveled often for the Top 16 circuit, but now spends his time focusing on university, where he studies industrial engineering. You can find him at various tournaments, as well as on Twitter at @xanderpero.